An ex-politician arrested for allegedly trying to hire a hitman to kill a garda, a Revenue official, and an accountant, may have been trying to prevent a probe into allegations that he had defrauded a number of people living in Cork.
An investigation into the fraud allegations got under way in 2011 and involved members of the Garda Fraud Squad, as well as the Revenue Commissioners.
The irregularities are said to have related to a number of financial transactions carried out by the man between 2005 and 2008.
He was subsequently questioned by the gardaí about offences under the Criminal Justice Fraud and Theft Act, but released without charge.
Detectives are also investigating whether the man was involved in intimidating some of the people who formed part of the fraud investigation team.
A letter bomb was recently sent to an official in the Revenue Commissioners. Army bomb disposal experts made it safe and confirmed it had been a viable device.
It subsequently emerged the former politician had made inquiries to an associate about hiring a professional hitman.
The associate tipped off gardaí who decided to send an undercover officer from another division to pose as a hired killer.
It’s believed the detective met the former politician about two weeks ago and the conversation was taped.
Not suspecting the man he was dealing with was a garda, the suspect is understood to have handed him €10,000 to carry out the first of three planned murders.
The first intended victim was an accountant living in Co Cork. All three targets were tipped off by gardaí and told to review their personal security.
It does not appear gardaí provided the three people with protection because they knew the so-called hitman was one of their own.
After several weeks of inquiries, they arrested the man on the suspicion of conspiracy to murder at a house in Co Cork early on Thursday morning.
The man was taken to Gurranabraher Garda Station, where he is being held under section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act.
He can be detained for up to seven days before gardaí have to decide whether to charge him or release him.
It’s understood the man had been in an agitated state since his detention started.
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