Noel O'Gara, the businessman and ground rent speculator who bought the title to a south Dublin suburban square from under the noses of the City Council three years ago, was fined a total of €4,700 in the District Court last week (January 16 ) after he was convicted of auditing four companies for which he was not qualified.
The court heard how O'Gara, (64 ), with an address at Ballinahown Court, Ballinahown, became an accountant in London in 1971 but admitted he hasn't practised since 1973 nor registered with a professional body since 1984.
He had pleaded not guilty to the nine breaches of Section 187 of the Companies Act 1990, brought by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement. Continuing his habit of defending himself, O’Gara argued that this professional qualification was sufficient to allow him perform the audits on the three small companies which he said: “had no creditors, employees or officers from outside my family”. The fourth company he audited belonged to a friend.
In evidence for the prosecution however, Ms Claire Gordon, an expert in company law at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, told the court that of the six professional bodies in the British Isles that are recognised in the State to register accountants a licence to practice, O'Gara was not a member of any of them.
Detective Garda Liam Fahy for the Bureau of Fraud Investigation, who cautioned and summonsed O'Gara, told the court that though there was no question of fraud in these matters, he had offered the defendant an opportunity to make a formal statement in October 2007 but that: "He told me he didn't have the time for this and hung up".
On a number of occcasions during his defence, O’Gara digressed in his evidence to his pet subject, namely, the search for the real Yorkshire Ripper, whom he believes he knows but for which theory he has got no formal support.
However, Judge Leo Malone ordered only relevant evidence to be given and had to steer the defendant back to the case on a number of times.
“I am satisfied the prosecution has proved its case,” said the judge before he fined O'Gara €800 on one sample count of improper auditing for each of the four companies and €500 costs each for the defendant's own three companies.
Judge Malone set recognisances for appeal at €800 from the defendant and another €800 from an independent source.
O'Gara came to national attention three years ago when he bought up the leasehold to Dartmouth Square in Ranelagh, south Dublin for under €10,000 and then closed it to the public amid much uproar.
In the wake of the sale of the Burlington and Jurys hotel, in Ballsbridge two years ago, O'Gara was quoted as saying he would take €65m from Dublin City Council for its return to public ownership, whilst actively trying to turn the park into a car park and tile showroom.
Proceedings in this matter are ongoing.