Wexford property firm handed €55,000 fine for 'fraudulent activity'

Sinead O'Leary and Michael A. O’Leary & Associates Ltd were ordered to pay into the Property Services Regulatory Authority (PRSA) following an investigation which uncovered improper conduct
Wexford property firm handed €55,000 fine for 'fraudulent activity'

High Court reporters

A total financial penalty of €55,000 has been imposed by the High Court on a property services company and its principal who have previously been struck off for improper conduct.

High Court president Ms Justice Mary Irvine also ordered that Sinead O’Leary and Michael A. O’Leary & Associates Ltd, both of Co Wexford, pay a total of €80,000 into to the Property Services Regulatory Authority (PRSA) compensation fund and a total of €10,000 towards the cost of the PRSA investigation.

In August last year, Ms O'Leary of Cornwall, Kilurin, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford and the company, with an address at South Main Street, Wexford, had their licences revoked by order of the High Court after it was found following a PRSA investigation they had engaged in improper conduct.

That investigation followed a complaint made by Windmill Heights Management Ltd (OMC), a firm linked to a Wexford property development.

In the High Court on Monday, Ms Justice Irvine said the present case arose out of the same investigation when concerns were raised about the management of another OMC account.

Three inspectors were appointed to investigate, with findings of improper conduct made in relation to Ms O’Leary and the company.

The judge said the findings of improper conduct included Ms O’Leary transferring funds amounting to €79,000 from the OMC account into a joint-account with her name on it.

The judge said in determining the appropriate sanction the PRSA noted it would have made the decision to revoke the licences of the respondents and permanently prohibit them from ever reapplying for new licences were it not for the fact it had already been done.

Ms Justice Irvine said it was clear from the evidence before her that the PRSA “considered the fraudulent activity of the respondents as being serious and entirely inconsistent with the position of trust occupied by them”.

She said this was an opinion with which she was in full agreement.

The judge said she saw no good reason not to confirm the sanctions sought.

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