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