Thursday, November 10, 2022

David Raleigh

Gardaí released without charge a man arrested earlier Wednesday as part of a probe into alleged corrupt practices at University of Limerick, involving payments of around half a million euro.

The man in his 60s was arrested as part of a Garda probe into historical severance payments, totalling €450,000, made to two former UL employees a number of years ago.

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

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

Gardai said that detectives from an anti-corruption Garda unit questioned the man about “alleged corrupt practices at a public body in Munster”.

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”.

Released

The two men who were previously arrested last March were held for a night at Henry Street before they were released without charge.

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

It’s understood that UL has assisted gardaí regarding the retrieval of documentation which I may provide 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 €1.7 million out of €2.5 milloin 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 €8 million in 2019 and that no independent valuation had been sought prior to the purchase.

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