Monday 11 December 2017

Secret tapes prompt internal probe into Eircom worker

Shane Phelan Investigative Correspondent

AN employee of telecomunications company Eircom has been the subject of an internal investigation into fraud allegations.

The move came after an outside contractor claimed the employee had sought "under-the-table" payments from three separate contractors in return for guarantees of future work from Eircom.

No money was handed over by the contractor.

The inquiry was launched after secret tape recordings were made of alleged conversations involving the employee.

The tapes were handed over to an investigator appointed by Eircom in April last year after meetings between the contractor and three senior Eircom staff. The contractor also provided a written statement outlining a series of allegations.

However, the whistleblower subsequently withdrew his cooperation from the Eircom investigation in November.

The contractor stated he did this because he was unhappy with the length of time the internal inquiry was taking. He was also unhappy that no further work had been provided to him after the allegations were made, placing his business in jeopardy.

Eircom has declined to comment on the matter.

The employee at the centre of the allegations also had nothing to say when contacted by the Irish Independent.

"I don't want to comment on it at all," the employee said.

A subsequent letter from solicitors representing the employee stated the allegations were untrue.

It said the employee never sought unwarranted payments from an Eircom vendor or from the two other companies named in the tape recordings.



Withdrawn

The solicitors said the allegations had been withdrawn and that no findings of wrongdoing had been made. They also stated the tape recordings were not technically authenticated.

Eircom has refused to confirm or deny the assertions made in the solicitors' letter.

In a statement, Eircom said it was "not in a position to comment specifically on any case involving individual employees and, in particular, where individuals are named".

The statement said the company could not comment as there were "safeguards with which Eircom must comply in relation to any internal processes or suspected wrongdoing by its employees".

It added: "We can confirm that any matters related to any complaint of suspected wrongdoing by employees of Eircom are without exception thoroughly investigated in accordance with the company procedures while at all times adhering to the requirements of fairness to all concerned."

The former state-owned company employs over 6,200 people. It was previously rocked by claims of alleged fraud by an employee in 2006. Details of that case only emerged when Eircom went to court to secure an order against the employee and another man, stopping them from reducing their assets.

That case involved allegations that an outside firm was paid more than €500,000 by Eircom for work which was not done or of inadequate value.

Irish Independent

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