Ryanair call on CAB to help recover €4.5m
Ryanair has admitted that it was targeted by scammers who siphoned almost $5m (€4.5m) from its bank accounts.
It is believed the thieves managed to initiate a single fraudulent transaction using a Chinese bank when stealing the money from the airline, which is Europe's biggest low-cost carrier and Ireland's second biggest company.
Ryanair has asked the Criminal Assets Bureau in Dublin to help recover the money, which was withdrawn through electronic transfer.
Ryanair uses dollars to buy fuel, and the money could have been siphoned off during one of these transactions.
The airline confirmed yesterday that it had "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 $5m - have now been frozen," said a spokesman.
"The airline expects these funds to be repaid shortly, and has taken steps to ensure that this type of transfer cannot recur."
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. It is believed that the investigation has spanned a number of jurisdictions.
Ryanair, headed by chief executive Michael O'Leary (left), 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, 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 data included personal information entered by customers signing up to the firm's online betting service.
That information included names, addresses and dates of birth.