A former Anglo Irish Bank employee will be sentenced next week for a €200,000 computer fraud at a Limerick branch of the bank three years ago.
Gordon O’Brien, aged 43, committed the fraud as Anglo was calling in its loan accounts during nationalisation of the bank. It was later noticed during an audit by Anglo’s successor, Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC).
O’Brien had set the money aside “as a war chest” as he was going to lose his job in the wind-up of the bank. Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard his wife was going to lose her job with another bank and his son had just been diagnosed with autism and faced having his education grant cut.
Counsel described him as “a decent man who had made a catastrophic mistake”.
The former clerk committed the fraud by transferring clients’ money into several bank accounts he controlled. He then took money from internal Anglo accounts and put it into clients’ accounts to make them seem in order.
O’Brien, of Springfield, Dooradoyle, Co Limerick, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to six counts of dishonestly using a computer with the intention of making gain or causing loss at Anglo Irish Bank, Henry St, Limerick. The offences occurred between September 2010 and June 2011. O’Brien made full admissions when confronted by bank officials and all the money was returned.
He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Judge Patricia Ryan remanded him on continuing bail until July 25.
Detective Garda Stephen Niland of the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation told Paul Carroll, prosecuting, there was a lengthy delay in IBRC making a complaint to gardaí due to 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 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 accounts belonged to his sister and cousin. He 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 about 30 client accounts were affected.
The fraud was noticed by IBRC auditors and O’Brien admitted everything in August 2011. He also told staff he had hidden nearly €30,000 in stolen cash in a safe deposit box in the bank.
Dean Kelly, defending, said O’Brien and his wife were going to lose their jobs because of the banking crisis and wanted to put money aside. 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,” Mr Kelly said, adding that O’Brien lived an ordinary life without “expensive golf trips, clothes, and cars”.