A well-known solicitor has been arrested by fraud squad detectives investigating members of a notorious Dublin family involved in bogus insurance claims that have yielded over €1m.
The veteran solicitor, based in west Dublin, was arrested on Monday morning on suspicion of deception and money laundering as part of a major investigation by the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB).
He was questioned all day at Ronanstown Garda Station before being released without charge late on Monday night.
Officers also raided his office and seized documentation and other items.
He was questioned in relation to a number of cases where he allegedly facilitated bogus claims for trips and falls against South Dublin County Council and Kildare County Council, which would have had a potential loss to the local authorities of €100,000.
"He was acting for a notorious female swindler who has convictions before the court, and investigations showed he was acting for her when she used two different names in the same period while attempting to sue the local authorities," a senior source said.
"Gardai suspect he was complicit in her activities and aware of the bogus nature of her claims," the source added.
In recent months the GNECB has been increasingly focusing on "dodgy" solicitors they suspect are helping clients facilitate fraudulent scams.
In a separate case last month, the Herald revealed that a 60-year-old solicitor who was formerly under major threat from notorious gangland criminal Alan Wilson was arrested at his Rathmines home as part of a major probe into the forgery of property deeds.
"Gardai have been increasingly investigating the activities of solicitors and it is expected more will be arrested in the coming months in relation to a number of different serious fraud-related cases," a senior source said last night.
"The solicitor arrested on Monday has a long-established practice in Dublin and has decades of experience. He was very shocked to find himself at the centre of a major criminal investigation but he very much is."
The woman he represented is a member of family-based organised crime gang who are suspected of making up to 60 fraudulent claims against local authorities in Dublin and Kildare over a number of years, which has netted them huge amounts of money.
They are based in the Clondalkin and Lucan areas of the capital. Three generations of the same family were arrested as part of the same investigation last October.
"Their fraudulent claims have mostly been for fake slips, trips and falls and in many cases they have used false names when making these claims," a source told the Herald.
"In a lot of instances these claims were settled out of court while others went to the Circuit Court and High Court. You are talking about a lot of money here."
Gardai said last October's arrests were a follow-up to a major search operation in April 2019, when six high-end cars and jewellery valued at more than €300,000 were seized from the gang.
The cars were a Jaguar, a Mercedes, a BMW, a Dacia and two Volkswagen Golfs.
Documentation and financial records were also seized, with gardai hoping to prosecute those suspected of insurance-related criminality.
"Investigations carried out to date by GNECB indicate that a number of targets in this operation have submitted multiple claims, in many circumstances while using false identities," gardai said at the time.
Armed gardai were not used for October's arrest operation but four months earlier the fraud squad was assisted by the Criminal Assets Bureau and Armed Support Unit.
"The activities of organised crime gangs like this, who are involved in insurance fraud crimes, affect everyone," a senior source said.
"It's the activities of groups like this that have played a part in insurance premiums being so high, which in turn has led to small businesses not being able to operate because of the high cost of insurance."
Many of the crimes the family members are being investigated for has led to money already being paid out to them - but gardai say this would not stop their probe.