Ryanair hit for millions in elaborate international banking scam
Ryanair has been targeted in an international scam that siphoned millions of euro from its bank accounts, the Herald understands.
It is believed that thieves managed to initiate a single fraudulent transaction using a Chinese bank that stole the money from the airline.
It is understood that there have been frantic efforts behind the scenes to track down the origin of the scam and to trace the funds that were stolen.
Ryanair confirmed last night that it had been hit by the substantial fraud and that it has investigated a "fraudulent electronic transfer via a Chinese bank last week".
"The airline has been working with its banks and the relevant authorities and understands that the funds (less than €4.5m) have now been frozen," a statement said.
"The airline expects these funds to be repaid shortly, and has taken steps to ensure that this type of transfer cannot recur," it added.
"As this matter is subject to legal proceedings, no further comment will be made."
It's believed that the investigation has spanned a number of jurisdictions.
Ryanair, headed by chief executive Michael O'Leary, is certain to have moved aggressively to pursue the culprits and to seal any gaps in its system that allowed the fraud to be perpetrated.
The scam is the second major exposure in the past year of an Irish public company to a significant security breach.
Last summer, gambling group Paddy Power revealed that there had been a massive data breach at the company that resulted in the personal details of 649,000 of its customers being stolen.
The stolen data included personal information entered by customers signing up to the Paddy Power online service.
That information included names, addresses and dates of birth.