A financial adviser in Mallow who used his business to dupe people out of substantial sums of cash has been jailed for five years.
One of his victims inherited money which she planned to use to set her young family up for the future by clearing all of her mortgage but Mervyn Tanner persuaded her to invest it and now she is at a loss of €120,000 and still has her mortgage.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said there was a huge breach of trust by 46-year-old Mervyn Tanner of Buttery Court, Market Square, Mallow, County Cork, as he jailed him at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.
He pleaded guilty to several sample charges of defrauding people of money and forging documents in support of various frauds.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said: “Mervyn Tanner was a financial and mortgage advisor. He was in a position of trust. He was a person who many of the victims were entitled to rely on, rely on his probity and trustworthiness to use money they might give him for their benefit. He was singularly negligent in that role.
“It is at the higher end of dishonesty in a case of this type and for the amount of injured parties, the continuity of dealings and the fact of such a substantial breach of trust – the breach of trust in these cases is huge.
“He inveigled money out of these people. He put it to use in ways that are still not clear. People lost all – or a substantial part – of their money. There was all sorts of dishonesty about where the money was and when that would be repaid. It was repaid in small amounts whenever the pressure came on.
“This was happening one way or another from 2010 to 2015 and there appears to be a concentration of his behaviour around 2015 – at that stage the tiger had nearly resurrected itself. I don’t know what the Celtic Tiger and his demise has to do with this case.”
The judge said that in offering explanations to the guards and to the court the defendant, Mervyn Tanner, showed a lack of insight into his behaviour.
“This was never going to come right. It is gone.
Detective Garda James O’Reilly outlined the background to people who made investments through Mervyn Tanner and in some cases they were shown fraudulent documents.
One woman planned to use money she inherited on her brother’s death to clear the family mortgage but Tanner persuaded her to do otherwise.
Another woman was defrauded of €6,200 as Tanner showed her false documents to make an investment look genuine. In another case he made no gain but presented forged documents purporting to show that he had funds to buy a €247,000 house in Glanmire. The illegality was spotted before there was any actual financial loss.
An investor was left at a loss of €42,000 which he gave to the accused man to purchase a property on North Main Street. The investor was told that the sale had fallen through but was left at a loss of €42,000 on various payments he had made to Tanner.
Finally, there was a fifth incident where a woman entrusted money with the accused and was left at loss of €5,000.
James O’Mahony defence senior counsel, said that at one time the defendant had offices at Douglas and North Point Business Park – and in the latter outlet employed 30 people.
Following the financial crash he went into business in Mallow selling mortgages and life insurance policies.
“He got involved in arranging loans for people who would not have been otherwise able to get loans and they were at high interest rates over short periods,” Mr O’Mahony SC said.
Det. Garda O’Reilly said: “Some of these people were not aware this was being used as private investments.” Mr O’Mahony added: “But some of them were.”
The defence senior counsel added: “The accused has not any trappings of wealth. He has not gone on expensive holidays, driving in Porsches with expensive jewellery.
“He ended up lending money to people who could not pay it back – that does not mean he is not guilty, he has accepted responsibility for all these charges. But he ended up robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
Laura Murphy, mother of three children, who was defrauded of €120,000 said: “In 2010 I inherited the sum of €218,000 from my brother’s life insurance. This was a very difficult time for me and my family. Looking back I was feeling so vulnerable.
“I had dealings with Mervyn Tanner previously because he helped me and my brother get a mortgage on a house in Kanturk in 2006. Mervyn knew that I received money from my brother’s passing and contacted me to give me advice on how to invest the money and advised me not to pay off the mortgage on my house which is what I intended to do.
“Whilst in a volatile state and still grieving my brother’s passing, he advised me to invest the money in New Ireland and Aviva. Unfortunately, I trusted his advice and soon after he advised me to invest in private investments.
“In 2013 I started working for him and at that point I began to discover that there was something not right about Mervyn and his dealings. I now believe he was keeping me very close to have more money taken from me.
“I stopped receiving payments on time and cheques started bouncing. I then started looking for my money back and he always had a story as to how he would have it soon or that there was a big investment coming or something which never came. This has continued to the present day.
“The accused has pleaded guilty to taking €120,000 of my money. This amount of money would have meant so much to our family, it would have allowed us to pay off the house and feel some financial security. It is also a betrayal of my brother’s memory – he wanted his money to be beneficial to me and my children.
“I feel Mr Tanner saw me at my lowest and took complete advantage of me. I can’t believe a human being would do that. It had never crossed my mind until it was all too late.
“It is very difficult when you trust someone like him. At the start when I knew him he had a good reputation in Mallow. That is why I felt I could trust him. However, somewhere along the line this all changed and I feel like I was taken for a fool and he used me to gain money for himself.
"I went through all the motions – anger, upset, confusion, betrayal. I had everything taken from me. Our lives continue to be affected as this money would have done so much financially for me and my family.
“I would like to thank the gardaí who were involved in this case for making this court case happen. And my husband for his support and to Support After Crime Services for their assistance.”