A FORMER clerk at the Limerick branch of the former Anglo Irish Bank will be sentenced next week for a €200,000 computer fraud at the bank three years ago.
Gordon O’Brien, aged 43, of Springfield, Dooradoyle committed the fraud as Anglo was calling in its loan accounts during the nationalisation of the bank. It was later noticed during an audit by Anglo’s successor, Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC).
During a sentencing hearing, Dublin Circuit Court heard O’Brien had set the money aside “as a war chest” because he was going to lose his job in the wind-up of the bank. His counsel described him as “a decent man who made a catastrophic mistake.”
The court heard his wife was also going to lose her job with another bank and his son had just been diagnosed with autism and faced having his education grant cut.
The former clerk committed the fraud by transferring clients’ money into several bank accounts he controlled. He would then take money from internal Anglo accounts and put it into the clients’ accounts to make them seem in order.
O’Brien previously pleaded guilty to six counts of dishonestly using a computer with the intention of making gain or causing loss at Anglo Irish Bank, Henry Street, Limerick. The offences occurred over a ten month period between September 2010 and June 2011.
The defendant made full admissions when confronted by bank officials and all the money was returned soon after.
Detective Garda Stephen Niland of the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation told Paul Carroll BL, prosecuting, that there was a lengthy delay in IBRC making a complaint to gardaí because of what was going on in the bank at the time.
O’Brien’s fraud revolved around Anglo’s operations in Limerick which involved loaning money to clients for the leasing of equipment, usually tractors and plant machinery.
In 2009 Anglo was being taken over by the State and was in the process of calling in these loans. Customers were settling their accounts using cheques and cash lodgements.
O’Brien used a computer to transfer money from these accounts into seven accounts he controlled in various financial institutions. Two of these accounts belonged to his sister and cousin. O’Brien told them he needed to use their accounts for share dealing.
He would then transfer money from internal Anglo “suspense accounts” into the client accounts to make them appear normal. Gardaí estimated that around 30 client accounts were affected.
The fraud was noticed by IBRC auditors and O’Brien admitted everything during a meeting with senior management in August 2011. He also told staff he had hidden nearly €30,000 in stolen cash in a safe deposit box in the bank.
The money was repaid within several weeks. Most of it was still on deposit in O’Brien’s Anglo accounts when the fraud was noticed.
Dean Kelly BL, defending, said O’Brien and his wife were going to lose their jobs because of the banking crisis and wanted to put money aside for this eventuality. They also needed money for their autistic son’s education because their government grant was also going to be cut off.
“He sought to amass a war chest, wrongly, but for the right reasons,” counsel said, adding that O’Brien lived an ordinary life without “expensive golf trips clothes and cars.”
Judge Patricia Ryan remanded O’Brien on continuing bail until July 25, next when she will finalise the case.