Search for post office worker as €1.5m missing
GARDAI have launched a massive investigation into a suspected €1.5m fraud at a post office.
And detectives are anxious to trace a senior staff member, who has been missing for the past three days, amid fears that he may have suffered a breakdown after the discrepancies were uncovered.
Financial irregularities were discovered during an internal audit at the post office in Gorey, Co Wexford.
But the extent of the alleged fraud was not determined until yesterday.
Last night, local gardai called in the assistance of officers from the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation as they stepped up their inquiries into the disappearance of the cash.
Gardai are anxious to interview all of the staff in the post office, including one of the managers, 36-year-old Tony O'Reilly, a married man from Carlow town.
Mr O'Reilly has not been seen since Wednesday morning when he left his home at 6.30am to drive to the post office in Gorey.
His wife, Lorraine, became concerned when she received a text message from Mr O'Reilly's work mobile, stating that he had been involved in a car crash near Tullow while on his way to work.
There has been no contact from him since then and his Volkswagen Golf car has not been located.
After it was established that he had not turned up at work that morning, gardai at Gorey and Carlow were notified. Officers were initially concerned that Mr O'Reilly might have been abducted as part of a tiger kidnap by a crime gang targeting a ransom in the post office.
Mr O'Reilly, the father of a 10-month-old daughter, normally carried two mobile phones but neither has been in use since then. Locals said he did not have his passport with him and there have been no recent transactions in his bank accounts.
Gardai said last night his disappearance was being treated at this stage as a missing person case but acknowledged that they would be anxious to speak to him along with all of the other staff at Gorey post office as their inquiries progressed into the fraud.
Members of his family and dozens of friends and acquaintances have been searching the mountains in Wicklow and also checking side roads on the route between Carlow town and Gorey over the past three days in a bid to establish some clues as to Mr O'Reilly's whereabouts.
It is believed that the financial discrepancies were discovered by senior personnel in An Post on Wednesday as they carried out an internal audit of the financial accounts of the premises in Gorey. An Post then lodged an initial complaint with gardai.
A full-scale inquiry has now been initiated by An Post's internal investigation unit and will be carried out in parallel with the garda investigation.
In a statement last night, An Post confirmed that "following the identification of a discrepancy discovered through internal procedures, the gardai have commenced an investigation at Gorey post office".
Staff suspected at first that about €1m was involved in the discrepancies, but further inquiries have established that the amount is around €1.5m.
Auditors are now trying to discover when the irregularities in the accounts began to emerge.
A senior garda officer said last night: "We are now beginning to examine fully the detailed complaint lodged by An Post. It's too early to be pursuing any possible lines of inquiry but we are very anxious to talk to anybody who would have been handling the accounts in the post office in the recent past," the officer added.