Pyramid scammer Barry Hanrahan avoids jail and €1.3m fine following 14-year court case

Hanrahan ran what was described as 'a type of a pyramid scheme' in 2001 and 2002 at the height of the Celtic Tiger

Barry Hanrahan promised a 30 per cent profit

Patrick O'Connell

Pyramid scammer Barry Hanrahan looked glum-faced as he emerged from court - despite dodging a 10-year jail sentence and possible €1.3 million fine over his financial shenanigans.

But then, perhaps it was just exhaustion at the conclusion of a 14-year court case which was put back on dozens of occasions to allow for the 39-year-old to pay back the €540,000 he had taken from 'investors.'

Hanrahan, Cavan Circuit Court heard, ran what was described as 'a type of a pyramid scheme' in 2001 and 2002 at the height of the Celtic Tiger.

Illegally presenting himself as an investment business firm or broker, he promised investors he arranged to meet in hotels, pubs and in their homes returns of 30 per cent.

However, most were left with nothing after the financial wheeler dealer claimed a man he'd met at a hotel convention let him down.

In total, the losses to Hanrahan's investors amounted to a staggering €540,000.

But, in handing over a final bank draft of €67,000 in restitution to his investors at Cavan Circuit Court last month, Hanrahan has now repaid every single penny.

And one of Hanrahan's victims yesterday issued a conciliatory statement, telling the Sunday World: "Unlike all the white collar crime we have seen in big companies, at least he [Hanrahan] tried to do the right thing."

During the lifetime of the marathon court case, which has gone on so long all the original investigating gardai have now retired, Hanrahan pleaded guilty to 10 sample counts contrary to the Investment Intermediaries Act 1995.

The offences occurred at locations in Dublin, Meath and Cavan between 2001 and 2002 and related to Hanrahan illegally presenting himself as an investment business firm or broker without the authorisation from the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority.

In total, there were 33 separate charges on the indictment, with a total combined loss to those involved amounting to €542,000.

Up until the final repayment, the case had been adjourned periodically, from one Circuit Court term to the next, allowing Hanrahan as much time as it took to pay back the monies owed.

All funds repaid, divided on a pro rata basis, were lodged into a joint account by agreement with the State Solicitor for Longford, Mark Connellan, and Hanrahan's own defence solicitor, Martin Cosgrove.

At one stage, before moving back to live in Ireland, it was stated to the court that Hanrahan had found employment in London in the financial services sector.

For his crimes, Hanrahan faced a maximum possible fine of £1 million or €1.27 million, a term of 10 years' imprisonment, or both.

Detective Garda Joanne Gethins, attached to Cavan Garda Station, provided evidence to the court, with case details relayed by prosecutor Monica Lawlor BL, instructed by State Solicitor Rory Hayden.

The sentencing court heard how Hanrahan had received money from people on a promise it would be reinvested, earning up to 30 per cent profit in return.

The court was informed by Det Gethins that the gardai who originally began investigating the case had all since retired.

When arrested by Det Garda James Murray in 2005, Hanrahan made "certain" admissions, though "disputed" the amounts owed to various people.

Hanrahan told gardai that the losses arose after a man named as 'Scott Sherlock' "let him down".

Hanrahan, a married dad-of-two, had no previous convictions at the time the offences came to light.

Judge Aylmer said, to Hanrahan's "credit", the defendant endeavoured to pay the money back. The judge said he would take the "unusual" step of suspending the entirety of a three-and-a-half-year prison term on condition that Hanrahan "be of good behaviour".

Today's Headlines

More Courts

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

WatchMore Videos