EU anti-fraud of­fi­cials be­gin probe into Garda Col­lege ‘slush fund’

Irish Independent - - NEWS - Niall O’Con­nor

EU anti-fraud of­fi­cials have for­mally be­gun their high-pro­file in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the ‘slush fund’ at the Garda Col­lege in Tem­ple­more.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the agency, known as Olaf, ar­rived in Dublin yes­ter­day and em­barked on a probe that is likely to have pro­found im­pli­ca­tions for An Garda Síochána.

Of­fi­cials kicked off their in­ves­ti­ga­tion by in­ter­view­ing Done­gal Garda Keith Har­ri­son. As re­vealed by the Ir­ish In­de­pen­dent last month, Garda Har­ri­son has told Olaf that he has doc­u­ments that point to po­ten­tial fraud at Tem­ple­more in­volv­ing EU monies.

It is the first time any serv­ing garda has alerted EU au­thor­i­ties to sus­pi­cions of wrong­do­ing within the force.

It is un­der­stood that the doc­u­ments handed over to Olaf in Dublin yes­ter­day de­tail how a laun­dry ac­count at Tem­ple­more is con­nected to the al­leged slush fund.

It can also be re­vealed that Olaf of­fi­cials are pre­par­ing to in­ter­view a for­mer se­nior Garda of­fi­cer, whose sig­na­ture ap­pears on a Cabra bank ac­count – which is sus­pected of be­ing used to fund en­ter­tain­ment for of­fi­cers.

Garda au­di­tors last year un­cov­ered se­ri­ous mis­man­age­ment of pub­lic funds at the train­ing col­lege.

A com­plex web of bank ac­counts linked to the laun­dry ser­vices at the col­lege was used to pay staff loans, as well as to fund bonuses, en­ter­tain­ment and sport­ing ex­penses.

The Olaf probe is sep­a­rate to the one be­ing led by the Garda watch­dog Gsoc, which will also ex­am­ine the role played by both cur­rent and for­mer of­fi­cers in the de­vel­op­ment of the sus­pected slush fund at Tem­ple­more.

A num­ber of fraud de­tec­tives and other ex­perts have been sec­onded by Gsoc to lead the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The is­sue has also been the sub­ject of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the Dáil’s Pub­lic Ac­counts Com­mit­tee (PAC).

For­mer Garda com­mis­sioner Nóirín O’Sul­li­van has her­self been caught up in the Tem­ple­more con­tro­versy, hav­ing pre­vi­ously been heav­ily con­tra­dicted by some of her for­mer se­nior civil­ian col­leagues about when she had first been in­formed of the con­cerns about the col­lege’s fi­nances.

How­ever, now that she has re­signed from the force, she is un­likely to vol­un­teer her­self to as­sist the Olaf probe.

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