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Woman arrested for money laundering in bogus legal aid probe

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David Williams was charged with four counts of deception

David Williams was charged with four counts of deception

David Williams was charged with four counts of deception

A woman was arrested for money laundering last week as part of a major Garda investigation into a 63-year-old man who previously worked as an accountant for former pop star Kerry Katona.

Detectives from the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) arrested the woman after investigations showed that she allegedly had €60,000 in a bank account.

The middle-aged woman, who lives in Co Kildare, was arrested and questioned at Newbridge Garda Station last Wednesday before being released without charge.

It is understood the €60,000 has now been frozen pending further investigations by the GNECB and a file on the woman will be prepared for the DPP.

The arrest was part of the investigation into David Williams who is also known as David McHugh who was charged with four deception offences at Naas District Court in May.

Williams is next due before the court on November 26.

At the hearing in May, Detective Keith Gorman of the GNECB alleged that fees of between €500 and €1,500 were charged to clients and he said the total amount involved in the deception case exceeded €1m.

Williams, whose address was given as Sroughan, Lacken, Blessington, Co Wicklow, faces four allegations of deception under Section 6 of the Theft and Fraud Offences Act on dates between January and April 2019, April and August 2019, September and November 2019 and September 2019 and May 2020.

Detective Gorman alleged that Williams presented himself as a barrister providing legal services to immigrants but gardaí began an investigation after a client of the defendant became suspicious that their file was not being processed.

He described the service as "very professional", which involved an office and websites.

Solicitor Julieanne Hayden said the defendant, who is a UK national, has lived here for 30 years.

Ms Hayden also said he had made no admissions when being questioned by gardaí.

Detective Gorman alleged that Williams had not provided the legal service to the immigrants and "had fooled people".

He told the court that gardaí have 1,110 files to examine in relation to one firm linked to Williams and a six-month adjournment was needed because the case is "very complicated".

This was granted by Judge Desmond Zaidan who described the charges are "very serious allegations" which are likely to be sent forward to the circuit court which has greater sentencing powers.

Judge Zaidan granted bail and said because assets and accounts had been frozen, he would grant free legal aid.

Conditions

Among the bail conditions imposed on Williams was that he must sign on daily between 9am and 9pm at Naas Garda Station, provide the address he is residing at, and a mobile phone number for contact purposes.

He must also not make contact with any parties involved in the case, including former employees and must not present himself as a barrister or a solicitor on social media or any other forum.

He must also not advocate himself as a provider of immigration services or advertise himself for providing these services.