Credit union theft saga spreads to Galway

Some 31 accounts have had to be refunded...

Credit union theft saga spreads to Galway

A fourth Irish credit union has revealed that it has had to deal with an employee potentially stealing funds.

St Anthony’s and Claddagh Credit Union (SACU) in Galway refunded some €87,000 to 31 accounts, after the discovery of an incident "involving unauthorised transactions on member accounts by a staff member". 

According to the Irish Times, the incident occurred in August 2016. SACU told the paper that the refund was made immediately after it became aware of what transpired and that it had been covered through its insurance company, "which insured the credit union's costs were fully covered with no additional cost to SACU or any of the members."

The Gardaí were notified and their investigation is currently underway, while the staff member is no longer working with the organisation.

SACU has three branches in the county, servicing 43,000 members with €200 million in assets. 

Chief executive Gerry Joyce said:

"Following a full review and investigation into the incident some amendments were made to our internal processes which we continue to keep under review."

The Galway revelations come at the end of a week that has seen the spotlight chiefly shone on suspected fraudulent activity in Cork.

It was reported on Wednesday that Gardaí in the Rebel County are investigating a potential €200,000 theft in the county's second branch scandal in less than two weeks.

A member of staff is accused of raiding accounts at the Gurranabraher credit union. According to the Irish Examiner, that staff member has been dismissed from their job.

They were allegedly engaged in the misappropriation of members' funds for a number of years before the problem "arose internally". The investigation has also been referred to the Central Bank.

The Gurranabraher branch has assured customers that it is insured to cover such matters – none of its over 15,000 members have been exposed to a loss as a result of the matter and it will have no impact on its services.

Synergy credit union in Fermoy has also reported suspected fraud of €407,442.

Gardaí are now investigating a series of "unauthorised transactions" at Synergy, with An internal investigation found that 29 member accounts had been affected by a series of "unauthorised transactions".

The credit union said that all these accounts were "replenished".

The Irish League of Credit Unions argued that "while any instance of this nature is extremely regrettable, such incidents remain very isolated."

"As credit unions are democractic and fully accountable to their members," an ICLU spokesperson continued, "where such incidents occur, it often comes to public attention.

"This is distinctly different to other financial institutions where such incidents may be dealt with via a closed internal process."

The spokesperson added that branches continue to strengthen their systems of internal control.