Thursday 14 December 2017

Manager in €200,000 overtime scam to be prosecuted

Aine Kerr Political Correspondent

A MANAGER who defrauded the Department of Social Protection of up to €200,000 in overtime payments is to be prosecuted.

Despite the staff member's dismissal, he is still in receipt of an early-retirement pension.

However, the dismissed employee has to hand over 25pc of his pension each year after an internal inquiry revealed his "serious misconduct", according to the department.

Following departmental inquiries and a garda investigation, the issue will come before the courts, a spokeswoman for the department confirmed last night.

The manager was dismissed last September, after it was discovered that he had been claiming overtime for eight years -- without actually working any additional hours.

He must now hand over 25pc of his pension every year and pay interest of 4pc on the monies owed. The former employee racked up €195,412 in wrongful overtime payments between 2001 and 2009.

"All money owed will be repaid. In line with procedures, 4pc compound interest will be added to the amount owed each year," a departmental spokeswoman said.

The gardai were notified about the case at the outset, she added.

The former employee is in receipt of an early-retirement pension. But he has to repay the department using 25pc of his pension and has already made a lump-sum payment.

The staff member was a manager in a "position of trust" and had the authority to co-ordinate and complete the overtime claims forms for the area he worked in, the department said.

The manager then added his own name to the overtime forms, having already obtained signatures on the forms by the relevant senior managers.

On foot of the fraudulent claims surrounding this one employee, the department widened its investigation to ensure that there were no similar instances.

Following a "detailed investigation" and a number of audits, no further irregularities were subsequently uncovered.

Pension

Rather than pay the full €195,412, it is believed the former employee may be forced to repay what the department is owed in terms of employers' PRSI and lost overtime. This may amount to some €111,253.

The department was advised that it could not withhold the pension from an employee on the basis that they had conducted themselves in an inappropriate fashion.

As the staff member is entitled to a pension, there would have been a "major difficulty" in legally denying the pension due to him, according to the department.

The figure of 25pc was considered to be the maximum that the department could obtain from the manager's pension.

Irish Independent

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