Passport Service staff held in fraud probe

Two employees of the Passport Service in Dublin were arrested yesterday in relation to suspected passport fraud.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said an investigation had begun during the autumn after internal checks revealed “irregularities” in the processing of three passports.

The Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation was called and a investigation was launched in the passport offices at Molesworth St and Balbriggan.

“The passport service takes the issue of passport fraud very seriously and has strengthened measures to identify and prevent potential fraud,” said a department spokesman. “Customer services provided by the passport service will not be impacted.”

Last night, gardaí confirmed a man and a woman, both in their 30s and staff members at the Molesworth St passport office, had been arrested under Section 20 of the Passport Act and taken to Pearse Street garda station.

They were held there under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act.

A garda spokeswoman said the woman was released yesterday evening and that a file will be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions. The man remained in custody.

Gardaí said the arrests had been part of an ongoing investigation being conducted by the NCBI investigation section into fraudulently obtained Irish passports.

This is the second investigation into alleged passport fraud in the space of less than a year.

Last July, two employees of the Dublin passport service were arrested and released in relation to the production of passports.

An investigation had been launched in May after internal checks revealed irregularities in two passports issued by an office in the capital.


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