A financial advisor who pleaded guilty to defrauding customers out of over €200,000 has been jailed for five years.
Cork Circuit Criminal Court heard that 46-year-old Mervyn Tanner was “robbing from Peter to pay Paul” after he set up a business which primarily lent to persons who would struggle to obtain a loan elsewhere.
One of the victims in the case inherited money following the death of a sibling which she planned to use to pay off her mortgage. However, Tanner persuaded her to invest it, and she is at a loss of €120,000 and still making mortgage payments.
Mr Tanner of Buttery Court, Market Square, Mallow Co Cork pleaded guilty to several sample counts of fraud and forging documents. The time period refers to various dates from November 2010 to December 2015.
Det Garda James O'Reilly told Judge Sean O'Donnabhain that the case involved five injured parties.
Mr Tanner was arrested by appointment in December 2018 after a concerned employee raised the alarm after being personally impacted by the fraudulent behaviour of the defendant.
The woman had inherited over €200,000 following the death of her brother in 2010. She had a mortgage with Mr Tanner and expressed interest in paying it off. He said that it was not wise to pay the mortgage and inveigled the woman in to making investments.
He told the woman that she would get “good return” from various policies. The injured party trusted him and had no reason to query his advice.
In 2013 Mr Tanner offered the woman a part-time job, and she started to notice “all was not right.”
The woman realised that a lot of Mr Tanner's clients were losing money. She spoke to him about the money she had invested with him, and he promised to pay her back. She was paid small amounts monthly and is still at a loss of over €120,000.
In a victim impact statement the woman said that what Mr Tanner did was a “betrayal of her brother’s memory”.
“Mr Tanner took advantage of me. I was taken for a fool. I felt ashamed and depressed. I suffer every day. I had everything taken from me.
“Whilst in a volatile state and still grieving my brother’s passing, he (Tanner) advised me to invest the money. The accused has pleaded guilty to taking €120,000 of my money. This amount of money would have meant so much to our family. It would have allowed us to pay off the house and feel some financial security.
“It is also a betrayal of my brother’s memory. He wanted his money to be beneficial to me and my children. Our lives continue to be affected as this money would have done so much financially for me and my family.”
Det Garda O’Reilly said Mr Tanner produced fraudulent bank statements with some of his clients in a bid to pretend that all was well with the business.
One man who invested in a scheme which Mr Tanner advised him to join ended up being at a loss of over €40,000 whilst a doctor was at a loss of over €43,000. Another woman was at a loss of €5,000.
Mr Tanner was arrested in late December 2018. He admitted forging documents and said that a lot of investments had failed to yield returns.
Barrister for the State, Ray Boland, said that the guilty plea in the case was of enormous benefit given the complications that would have no doubt arisen in a lengthy and difficult trial.
Defence barrister James O’Mahony said that Mr Tanner was a separated father of three who at one time ran a business which had up to 30 employees. He struggled with the collapse of the Celtic Tiger and was working on his own in Mallow having previously operated a firm in Cork city.
Garda O’Reilly agreed that Mr Tanner hadn’t amassed any wealth from his wrong doing.
Judge O’Donnabhain said that Mr Tanner was in a position of trust and “was singularly negligent in his duty” to his clients.
He said that the case was at the higher level of dishonesty and that a number of parties were harmed with no possibility of compensation.
Taking the value of the guilty plea in to account he jailed Mr Tanner for seven years suspending the last two years of the sentence.