Monday 14 October 2019

Kerry Katona's former accountant targeted in raid by fraud squad

David McHugh
David McHugh

Ken Foy

Fraud squad detectives have raided the offices of a convicted swindler who previously worked as an accountant for former pop star Kerry Katona.

Officers from the Garda's National Economic Crime Bureau carried out the planned search in north Kildare yesterday morning and spent a number of hours at the premises.

Senior sources said the target of the investigation was Tallaght man David McHugh (62), who is on the run from English authorities after he failed to appear in court in April of last year where he was due to go on trial in relation to a number of fraud charges.

However, he is using an alias in Ireland and when contacted by the Irish Independent under this different name yesterday, he refused to comment.

Detectives seized computers and documentation during yesterday's raid, but no arrests were made.

Almost €100,000 was also frozen in a bank account linked to McHugh. The seized items will now be forensically examined and the investigation is ongoing.

Gardaí are investigating if McHugh has been operating as a barrister and solicitor here without the proper qualifications. It is understood that the convicted conman may have claimed he has qualified as a lawyer by doing an online US college course.

The Garda investigation into his activities began after complaints by the Law Society of Ireland and a member of public who made a complaint to Naas garda station in which she alleged she had been "ripped off".

Gardaí are investigating whether McHugh has been operating a 'law firm' mainly acting for foreign nationals and obtaining money to fight immigration cases.

McHugh became famous in the UK over a decade ago when he handled Kerry Katona's accounts after the pair met when she became the face of female-only taxi firm Pink Ladies.

However, it all ended in tears when she sacked him and was later arrested for assaulting McHugh in an incident in which police decided not to press charges against her.

In November 2011, McHugh was sentenced to three years after he admitted taking part in a £4m fraud.

He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud in a case surrounding a London finance company called Gresham Ltd.

McHugh pretended to be a qualified lawyer and an accountant of 35 years in that case.

He was also jailed in 2004 in England for setting up a company to help firms recover debts.

He was banned from being a company director for six years.

Irish Independent

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