Accounts frozen by the State

A PORTLAOISE man has applied to the district court for disclosure of information pending a potential garda investigation into his finances, after three savings accounts in his name containing well over €80,000 were frozen by the Criminal Assets Bureau.

A PORTLAOISE man has applied to the district court for disclosure of information pending a potential garda investigation into his finances, after three savings accounts in his name containing well over €80,000 were frozen by the Criminal Assets Bureau.

Darren McInerney, 122 Primrose Avenue, Esker Hills, Portlaoise, made an application last week to revoke an order made by the court to freeze his account at Bank of Ireland Portlaoise and an account he has at the Mountrath Credit Union.

The court heard that McInerney has €63,999 in the credit union and €15,500 in the bank.

Senior counsel for McInerney, Ms Yvonne Mullen BL said that her client had previously applied for a disclosure order concerning a third account at a post office, but the court had refused his application on September 7.

Ms Mullen said she was requesting a copy of any information and supporting documentation the State had on her client, as she did not know on what grounds the court order had been made and her client’s constitutional right to private property had been breached.

“We don’t know what allegations have been made and we don’t know why the accounts have been frozen,” she said.

Ms Mullen went on to say that her client was entitled to see whatever evidence the State intended to use as the case of DPP vs Gary Doyle had made it a legal requirement for all statements to be made available to defence.

Mr Binchy of the Criminal Assets Bureau pointed out that the Gary Doyle ruling is confined to criminal law matters and had no relevance in this case as it was a civil law matter.

Mr Binchy said that the gardaí have to be able to investigate whether an offence has taken place and there may yet be no charges brought against McInerney.

“There can’t be a criminal disclosure as no criminal charges have been brought to date,” he said.

“If the information was disclosed before the charges were brought, at an investigative stage, the gardaí might as well throw their hands up as the investigation would be moot.”

Mr Binchy said the onus is on the applicant to satisfy the court that an investigation is not needed and he suggested that McInerney should swear an oath to explain how he got the money.

After hearing all submissions, Judge Staines ruled that as this is a civil and not a criminal matter legislation exists to allow for the accounts to be frozen while an investigation takes place.

“The money is held in the accounts, it’s not taken from him so he’s not prejudiced,” she said. “If more details are given to him it could prejudice the investigation.”

However, the judge said that the reasons in the official explanation to McInerney could be more detailed and she ruled that the State must furnish him with an outline of the “general criminal activity” they are investigating.

The matter was put back to October 4.