A former Supermacs manager and his cousin were given a six month and seven month suspended sentence respectively for attempting to open bank accounts with forged letters of employment and utility bills.
Payman Afzal (26 ) with an address at 26 Castan, Doughiska, Oranmore, appeared before Galway District Court on Monday where he pleaded guilty to the charges of without lawful authority being in possession of a false Electrical Ireland bill and using it with intent to induce another to accept as genuine at Bank of Ireland, Mervue Industrial Estate on March 20, 2012. He also pleaded guilty to one count of using a false Electrical Ireland bill with intent to induce another to accept as genuine, without lawful authority being in possession of a false Electrical Ireland bill, and using a letter of employment on Supermac’s headed paper which was false with the intention to induce another into accepting it as genuine, and being in possession of that letter without lawful authority, at AIB, Tuam, Road, on the same date.
Co-accused Shamas Ashraf (34 ) of the same address also appeared before Judge Mary Fahy and pleaded guilty to two counts of making a false letter of employment on Supermac’s headed paper with the intention of inducing another to accept it as genuine on March 20 or dates thereabout at his place of residence.
Detective Garda Thomas Doyle gave evidence that in March of this year a complaint was made by Supermac’s and AIB stating that a person had entered a branch and produced false documents in order to open an account. Det Garda Doyle said that subsequent investigation revealed the same person had produced an ESB bill at a Bank of Ireland branch for the same purpose. Further enquiries revealed that Ashraf had been employed as a manager at Supermac’s at the time and that he had created a letter stating that Afzal was in employment at the company. Another letter was also produced to open an account at another bank branch. It was stressed that no loss had been caused to the banks and both men, natives of Pakistan, had co-operated with gardai.
Judge Fahy noted that Ashraf’s offences were more serious as he had been in a position of responsibility, to which Det Garda Doyle replied that Supermac’s “did view it seriously”. The court also heard that Afzal had only been in the country a short time and had been staying with his cousin, Ashraf. Afzal had been seeking employment and needed an account.
“This was only being done to open an account? There has to be more to this,” said a suspicious Judge Fahy.
Det Garda Doyle confirmed that he had done an extensive investigation which revealed the men were “trying to fast track” opening accounts.
Defence solicitor John Martyn said that Ashraf has been in the country for eight years and had worked for Supermacs for the majority of that time but is no long employed there. Mr Martyn added the neither Ashraf nor Afzal has previous convictions.
“The garda accepts their tale of woe. I would have my suspicions but I have nothing to ground that. This man [Ashraf] had been in a position of responsibility, it has to treated seriously otherwise it could be replicated,” said Judge Fahy who convicted Ashraf and imposed a six month sentence suspended for two years on his own bond of €1,000 to be of good behaviour. He was also fined €500 with four months to pay. Afzal was sentenced to a total of seven months suspended for two years on his own bond of €1,000 to be of good behaviour and was also fined €500 with four months to pay.