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Men in forestry fraud case accused of deception by inducing investor to hand over £52k

Garret Hevey also faces an additional charge for possessing €1.9 million in crime proceeds.

Image: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

TWO BUSINESSMEN ARE facing trial in connection with a €1.9 million forestry investment fraud.

David Piele and Garret Hevey faced separate court hearings yesterday in which both were charged with deception of £52,000stg. Hevey alone faces an additional charge for possessing €1.9 million in crime proceeds.

Company director Garret Hevey, 41, of Brookdene, Shankill, Co. Dublin, appeared at a late sitting of Dublin District Court.

Detective Inspector Cathrina Gunne of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB)  told Judge Michael Walsh that Hevey was arrested at his home at 7.35am on Monday and he was then taken to Dun Laoghaire garda station where he was detained overnight.

He was charged with the two offences at 3.25pm yesterday after which he made no reply, she said.

He is accused of deception by inducing Kari Wahlstrum to pay him the sum of £52,000stg at Allied Irish Bank (AIB), Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin on 23 February last year.

His second charge states it is alleged that on 13 June last year at AIB on George’s Street, in Dun Laoghaire he was in possession of €1,982,825 in crime proceeds, contrary to the Money Laundering Terrorist Financing Act, which can carry a maximum 14-year sentence.

She objected to bail telling the court that the defendant was a director and shareholder in the firm Arden Forestry Management Ltd.

It was alleged the company investors, who are all based outside the State, transferred large sums to the AIB account which was set up in 2014 and it appeared as if they were investing in a legitimate forestry business with legitimate folios, sites and timber certificates.

It was alleged investors were provided with false documentation.

In relation to the deception charge, Detective Inspector Gunne said that when Wahlstrum requested verification of the investment, he was given false documentation and a false folio.

Checks were made with the property registration authority and it was also alleged that there were false management contracts with other reputable companies who did not give permission for their names to be used.

She told the court there was strong documentary and digital evidence, as well as witnesses and she feared that Hevey would not stand trial and would evade justice if granted bail.

It was also alleged he used the alias James Baker in the firm’s brochure, she said. She also told the court that he had contacted a potential witness seeking the return of fraudulent documentation and she feared he would interfere with the criminal investigation.

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Judge Walsh noted from defence solicitor Dara Robinson that a married father-of-one,  Hevey has lived at his home for the past nine years and there is a mortgage on the property. His wife and father attended the hearing.

He said his client has co-operated with court orders in relation to the Arden Forestry Management Ltd’s bank account which has been frozen.

The solicitor said Arden Forestry Management Ltd is being put into liquidation.

Directions from the DPP need to be obtained, the court heard. Hevey, who remained silent during the hearing, has not yet indicated how he will plead.

Bail granted

Judge Walsh set bail in his own bond of €5,000 of which half must be lodged in court. He also sought an independent surety amounting to €20,000 of which €10,000 must be lodged.

He ordered him to reside at his home address, to surrender his passport and not to apply for a duplicate, to be contactable always via mobile phone, have no contact directly or indirectly with alleged injured parties and sign on three times a week at his local garda station.

He was remanded in custody with consent to bail on these terms and will face his next hearing on Thursday.

Second case

UK national David Piele, 40, a father-of-two with an address at Rectory Way, Bray, Co. Wicklow also appeared before Judge Ann Watkin at Dun Laoghaire District Court and was granted bail.

He is solely charged with deception of Kari Wahlstrom of £52,000stg at AIB, Dun Laoghaire on 23 February last year.

Detective Garda Siobhan Moore of the GNECB gave evidence of arrest, charge and caution. She said he was arrested at his home in Bray on Monday morning at 7.32am and he was charged at 3.56am yesterday.

He made no reply, she said, adding that there was an objection to bail on the grounds that he was a flight risk, the seriousness of charge and the likely sentence on conviction. The deception offence can carry a maximum five-year term.

The complainant, Kari Wahlstrom, claims he took his photo and knew him as David Marshall. Moore said it will be alleged he used that false name in dealings with investors.

She said there was a possibility of further charges and the accused had no record of employment in Ireland since December and spends a lot of time out of jurisdiction – including the UK and Spain. He lived in Bray with his partner and his two kids live in Ireland. She alleged he had no ties to jurisdiction or assets here, resided in a rented home and access to substantial sums.

It was alleged the case related to an investment fraud in forestry; the complainant invested believing he would own land and get government grants.

Judge Watkin noted the accused travels a lot but she said his base is here and his family live here.

Defence solicitor Michael Staines told the court his client has been aware of this investigation for some time. He has been aware he was being interviewed as part of criminal investigation since early January and he made no attempts to leave.

Judge Watkin granted bail is his own bond of €5,000 and told him the money had to be lodged. She ordered him not to apply for travel documents and to be be contactable 24/7 both by phone and at given address.

The DPP’s directions were not yet available in his case either and he was remanded on bail to appear again 21 March next.

Comments are closed as legal proceedings are ongoing. 


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Tom Tuite

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