garda probe | 

Suspended solicitor (54) is arrested in probe into alleged €4m theft

Man (54) questioned by garda fraud squad in relation to 40 client complaints

The Four Courts, Dublin


A 54-YEAR-OLD solicitor has been arrested as part of an investigation into the theft of more than €4m from his clients.

The arrest of the west Dublin-based lawyer happened this week following a lengthy investigation by the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB).

Fraud squad detectives have been investigating the case for several years after it was referred to gardaí by the Law Society, which received 40 separate complaints in relation to the man’s alleged activities involving the misappropriation of funds.

The solicitor is suspected of stealing money from clients who had lodged it with him in relation to mortgages, land transactions and estate matters.

It is alleged that just over €4m was stolen from 40 people. The Law Society has so far refunded €1.6m to the alleged victims.

The solicitor at the centre of the investigation has been suspended for a number of years, and it is understood he has a gambling problem that may be at the root of the alleged offences.

He was arrested by appointment by GNECB officers at Dublin’s Bridewell Garda Station on Monday and detained until Tuesday.

He was questioned about 40 separate counts of theft and later released without charge. A file will now be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

“This is an individual who is displaying no real trappings of wealth – whatever money has been stolen is now gone,” a source told the Irish Independent.

The man is one of a number of solicitors and other professional people, including GPs and accountants, across the country who have been arrested in recent years by gardaí investigating allegations of fraud.

In an entirely separate matter, the GNECB is co-ordinating a major investigation into convicted fraudster Padraic Maloney (56), from Rahoon, Galway, who is based in England.

Enquiries so far have established that Maloney has taken deposits totalling more than €50,000 from dozens of customers and not installed promised solar panel equipment at their homes.

Gardaí are investigating complaints from a long list of customers, some of whom are out of pocket by as much as €16,000.

The average sum allegedly scammed by Maloney is understood to be between €3,500 and €6,0000 per victim.

A source told the Irish Independentgardaí have received complaints from many parts of Ireland in relation to Maloney’s activities.

“There have been complaints from at least 11 people, including victims in Cork, Dublin, Mullingar, Kinnegad and Piltown, Co Kilkenny,” a source said.

“The website which he used to con people is up and running after it was taken down for a while.

“Gardaí have not had an opportunity to speak to him yet as he is in England.”

Maloney was convicted in February 2012 of three counts of theft and was given a two- year sentence suspended for 12 months.

He had been charged in connection with the theft of nearly €40,000 in cash, and was accused of stealing from one man’s house five times over the course of seven months in 2008 and 2009.

Maloney set up Hibernia Solar Energy, which specialises in installing solar panels in clients’ homes.

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