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Friday 23 February 2018

Staff quizzed in €1.76 post office fraud investigation

Brendan Furlong and Tom Brady

Gardai investigating a suspected €1.76m fraud at Gorey Post Office are to begin interviewing staff there today.

Officers are carrying out initial inquiries at the Co Wexford branch as they await a more detailed account of the alleged crime from An Post auditors.

Senior officials from An Post have been in Gorey for over a week in an effort to establish;

•The full extent of the suspected financial irregularities.

•How the alleged fraud was carried out.

•When it began.

•Why it was not detected sooner.

Officials are already trawling through accounts and files dating back to the start of the year and may decide to look even further back.

But the key witness in the investigation is not likely to be interviewed for some time because he is under medical care in the south-east.

One of the managers in the branch, Tony O'Reilly (36), went missing on Wednesday week as the internal audit was getting under way. His family reported his disappearance as they were concerned he was under stress and were worried for his safety.

Mr O'Reilly was located in Belfast on Saturday and was taken home for medical attention.

In a statement to the Irish Independent on Sunday, his family admitted Mr O'Reilly had a gambling problem, which had spiralled out of control in recent months.

The failure of An Post's internal auditing procedures to spot the discrepancies in the accounts until last week despite a large amount of cash having gone missing has also raised fears over their effectiveness.

An Post is expected to study the outcome of the probe to review its implications for auditing checks on all of its branches in the future.

Detectives from the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation are assisting with the inquiry.

Mr O'Reilly, who is married with a 10-month old daughter, lives in Carlow town.

Staff initially suspected that around €1m was missing from the branch but it later increased to €1.76m as the audit got under way.

Irish Independent

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