Financial consultant was paid €145k by deception

A former banker, turned financial consultant, played on the worries of friends and acquaintances about the safety of banking money in Ireland in 2011 and got them to pay him €145,000 by deception.

With the exception of sums amounting to less than €5,000, the injured parties have received none of it back yet. John Hartnett of Ballinvragnosig, Riverstick, Co Cork, pleaded guilty to four charges on the indictment at Cork Circuit Criminal Court, stating that he dishonestly induced others to make investments to make gain for himself.

The charges related to €45,000 from Ian Coughlan in Carrigaline, on January 14, 2011; €45,000 from Norma Coughlan in Carrigaline one week later; €25,000 and €20,000 cheques from Norma Coughlan at Brookdale, Riverstick, on April 8, 2011, and €10,000 from Laura Murphy in Douglas on October 17, 2012.

Detective Garda Aonghus Cotter said that in 2009 Ian Coughlan’s wife died and John Hartnett was well aware of this. Mr Coughlan became apprehensive about the security of €45,000 in an Irish bank account.

“John Hartnett proposed opening up a bank account for him and in January 2011 he was to place €45,000 in a deposit account in the US,” Det Garda Cotter said.

There was to be no element of this being a speculative investment and the only reason for depositing the money in an American bank was for the purpose of security. However, numerous unsuccessful attempts were made to get this money back from Hartnett.

The detective said the injured party was given false documents and false assurances. Mr Coughlan’s mother, Norma Coughlan, gave Hartnett €90,000 in similar circumstances to be lodged in an American bank account. Laura Murphy gave him money to be placed in a secure deposit account in London.

Defence senior counsel Alice Fawsitt said Hartnett was in the course of selling lands to raise compensation.

The judge adjourned sentencing until May 13 and said to Ms Fawsitt: “Your client must appreciate he has been acting in absolute bad faith up to now. He will not get any understanding from the court unless he shows a complete change in attitude.”

The monies repaid were €2,000 to Mr Coughlan; and €2,800 to Ms Murphy, who had taken civil proceedings.

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