A NINE month internal investigation by Limerick City and County Council into whistleblower claims of substantial financial fraud has led to a criminal investigation by Gardaí.
The claims, which centre around misappropriation of Council funds for gain by a third party or parties, were made by the whistleblower in a protective disclosure through a solicitor.
Gardaí have confirmed that the Council referred the matter to them, and that a criminal investigation is underway.
Further details have now emerged in a internal Council email, seen by this reporter.
The “members update” email was circulated to elected councillors and officials, by a senior Council official last Friday.
The email confirms that further to recent media reports into allegations of fraud at Limerick City and County Council, a detailed investigation process was conducted over the last nine months.
”The case has now been referred to the Gardaí,” the email goes on.
It further explained that “a staff member has been dismissed“.
The email reveals that the Council executive “can confirm that the Chair of the Audit Committee was kept fully briefed on the progress of the investigation, and is satisfied that the Council, at all stages, acted in an appropriate manner in dealing with this matter”.
“The executive can also confirm that the Local Government Auditor was fully briefed on the progress of the investigation”.
“As the case has now been referred to the Gardaí, the Council will not be commenting any further,” the email concluded.
The Council’s internal investigation involves a major audit of its accounts stretching back several years.
A Garda spokesman said: “Gardaí have received a report from Limerick City and County Council in relation to allegations of fraud.
“Gardaí are at the very early stages of this investigation and no further information is available,” the spokesman added.
It’s not known how many people may have been involved in the alleged fraud.
Sources said the allegations refer to a substantial amount of money and relate to alleged illegal activity dating back at least ten years.
Meanwhile, a Council source described the matter as “a live internal investigation”.
“They are looking deep, and digging into the allegations. There are internal audits which you would trust would find something wrong if there was something wrong.”
“These are serious allegations and they must be investigated,” they added.
A Council spokesperson responded: “Limerick City and County Council do not comment on individual HR issues.”