Wednesday, November 09, 2022

David Raleigh

Gardaí were questioning a man on Wednesday as part of a probe into alleged corrupt practices involving sums of up to €500,000 at the University of Limerick (UL).

The arrest of the man, in his 60s, was understood to be part of Garda enquiries into historical severance payments, totalling €450,000, made to two former UL employees.

Last March, gardaí arrested two men in their 60s as part off the same investigation which is being led by detectives attached to the Anti-Bribery & Corruption Unit, Garda National Economic Crime Bureau.

The man arrested Wednesday was being questioned under Section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act at the NorthWestern Regional Garda Headquarters in Galway.

Gardaí said that detectives from the anti-corruption Garda unit “arrested a male, in his 60s, as part of an ongoing investigation into alleged corrupt practices at a public body in Munster, the male is currently detained at a Garda Station in the West of the country, An Garda Síochána has no further comment at this time”.

Two men were arrested by gardaí last March and questioned at Henry Street Garda Station, the Limerick Garda Division Headquarters, they were held overnight and released without charge.

UL declined to comment on the latest arrest however a spokeswoman previously said the university would “cooperate fully with any investigation undertaken by An Garda Siochana”.

Investigation files

Gardaí are preparing investigation files for the Director of Public Prosecutions who will then consider whether or not charges are brought as part of the investigation.

It’s understood that UL has assisted gardaí regarding the retrieval of documentation which may prove fruitful to the ongoing Garda investigation.

Last year, UL’s president, Professor Kersten Mey, informed the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that UL had “briefed” gardaí in relation to alleged fraud at the university.

The university has also sought legal advice in relation to the alleged fraud.

In 2021 the Department of Higher Education withheld €1.7m out of €2.5m in Capital funding from the university over concerns about its financial governance.

As part of separate enquiries into UL’s financial operations, the independent auditors KPMG, along with the Higher Education Authority and the PAC have been investigating allegations that UL paid twice the market value in acquiring the former Dunnes Stores site, Sarsfield Street, Limerick City, for €8m in 2019 and that no independent valuation had been sought prior to the purchase.

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