Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Sonya McLean

An accountant who allowed his friend to use his bank account without realising the man was stealing from the financial services company they worked for has been given a suspended sentence.

Kasim Muchhala (34) of Temple Woods, Greenhills Road, Dublin 24, allowed his friend and colleague, referred to in court as “suspect A”, to use his account a number of times between January 2019 and October 2019.

He pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to money laundering, on the basis of recklessness, when €72,070 was transferred into his account.

Detective Garda David Egan said suspect A stole a total of €1.2 million from the company they both worked by making various fraudulent expenses claims. He said two other people are before the courts for allowing their accounts to be used to launder the stolen funds.

He confirmed that although Muchhala agreed to allow his account to be used a number of times, and that a total of €72,050 was laundered through it, he never got any reward or money for his role.

Det Gda Egan agreed with Edward Doocey BL, defending, that his client was not involved in the theft and was not aware where his colleague had got the money from.

He accepted that Muchhala said he had been working with suspect A for eight years and believed he was a shrewd investor who had an interest in stocks.

Mr Doocey said given his client’s occupation and “professional acumen” he should have been aware of the risk of allowing his account to be used.

He acknowledged that between €5,000 to €8,000 was transferred to his account, either once or month or twice a month and yet it “didn’t alarm him or concern him”.

‘Classic money mule case’

Det Gda Egan agreed with Mr Doocey that Muchhala was unlikely to come before the courts again.

Mr Doocey said his client was a married man with two young daughters who came from Mumbai to live in Ireland in 2015.

He agreed with Judge Martin Nolan that his client should have been aware of the risk of allowing his account to be used.

“He should have asked why the continued use of the account was needed and what was the source of the income,” Mr Doocey said but added that he trusted his long-term friendship with suspect A and the fact he had a long-standing good record.

“It is not a classic money mule case,” Mr Doocey said “There was no promise, no inducement or profit made. He made his account available at the request of a then friend.”

Judge Nolan accepted that Muchhala was a good member of his local community and “highly unlikely to re-offend in the future”.

He said he had to accept that Muchhala “didn’t know that his friend was using this account to defraud another entity”.

Judge Nolan said that on that basis it would be “very unjust to imprison him”.

“He is obviously a very bright and intelligent man but I can accept the submission that he didn’t suspect or know, (what was happening),” Judge Nolan said before he suspended an 18-month sentence on strict conditions.

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