Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 5 May 1976

Vol. 290 No. 5

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Fraud Squad Investigation.


andMr. Molloy asked the Minister for Justice the action taken as a result of the Fraud Squad investigation into the operations of a firm (name supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter.

I am informed by the Commissioner, Garda Síochána, that certain complaints against the firm in question were received by the Garda Síochána and have been inquired into by them in so far as that has been possible. Their inquiries have been completed only very recently and their report has been submitted to the law officers for consideration.

I should like to make it clear that the submission of the report to the law officers is routine in any situation of this kind and it carries no implication as to whether the Garda believe that the facts alleged constitute a ground for alleging that a criminal offence was committed.

Could the Minister give the reason for the delay in completing these inquiries and, secondly, is the Minister aware that the people who are the subject of this inquiry, this building firm called Trad Built——

Did I say something wrong?

You did. The Deputy ought not to refer by name to an individual firm.

I apologise to the Chair. Is the Minister aware they have collected over £125,000 from over 15 different counties and left the people, having paid £4,800 each for buildings that cost only £800 for the amount of work done, without redress and is the Minister aware that the people who carried out this fraud have skipped the country while the investigations are going on in spite of the promise made that they would not be allowed to leave the country?

I do not concede there was any delay on the part of the Garda in carrying out the investigation. Until such time as the Director of Public Prosecutions decides a prosecution should be taken there cannot be any restriction obviously on a person's liberty to leave the country. To say there was some negligence on the part of the Garda that permitted people to go out of the country is wrong and unfair to the Garda. The complaint was investigated in the normal way and with all possible speed. I cannot comment on the figures beyond saying the figures I have are considerably less than the figures quoted by the Deputy though, I concede to the people who have been allegedly defrauded, that is no consolation.

Could the Minister say when the allegations were first made to the Garda? Is the Minister aware allegations were made at the same time to the Minister for Local Government, and his officers investigated, and also reported to the Attorney General?

It would appear from the information available to me that statements of complaint were made to the Garda in July, 1975. It is possible complaints were made at an earlier date.

May I suggest to the Minister complaints were directly laid to the Department of Local Government about this exercise at least two years ago, if not three?

I would suggest that the Deputy ask the Minister for Local Government about that. I know this particular exercise was carried out in such a way that it appeared to all intents and purposes a perfectly legal and normal building transaction. When it reached a certain stage there was to all intents and purposes merely failure to fulfil a contract. As the Deputy will appreciate, the boundary line between mere failure to fulfil a contract and the commission of a crime is a very fine one and it is very often difficult to establish when that line is crossed.

I do not want to delay and I am inhibited by the ruling of the Chair, which I respect and which was right and proper in the circumstances, but it is not just a question of failure to fill a contract. There was a succession of flagrant breaches of contract by this firm which should have been investigated long since.

I would not like to say when flagrant breaches of contract become a crime. That is precisely the problem in this area. The matter was investigated and investigated vigorously.