Dublin People

Man avoids jail after he admits he allowed his bank account to be used for invoice fraud

By Jessica Magee

A man who defrauded two Irish transport companies by diverting an invoice of almost €50,000 into his own bank account has been given a suspended sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Joyce Sulambi (24) of Lohunda Park, Clonsilla, Dublin 15, pleaded guilty to handling €49,724 in stolen cash on April 15, 2019.

Sulambi was sentenced to two years fully suspended yesterday.

The court heard that in April 2019, Reynolds Logistics received a fake email purporting to be from one of their regular subcontractors, ENTS Transport Ltd.

The email claimed that the bank account belonging to ENTS Transport was switching from Bank of Ireland to AIB.

Shortly afterwards, ENTS issued a genuine invoice, which Reynolds Logistics then paid into the AIB account.

Garda Shane Healy told Pieter Le Vert BL, prosecuting, that an investigation was launched when ENTS never received their money.

Gardaí traced the money paid by Reynolds Logistics to an AIB account in the name of Joyce Sulambi.

Gda Healy said bank statements showed that Joyce’s account was emptied within two days with transfers of varying amounts being made to bank accounts in Germany and the UK.

A warrant was obtained to search Sulambi’s house in June 2020, but gardaí found no laptops or other electronic devices normally used in money laundering offences.

Sulambi was arrested and admitted his involvement in money-laundering, describing it to gardaí as a “bank job, invoice fraud”.

He says he was paid around €3,000 for his role, and was identified on CCTV at Dublin Airport withdrawing this money in sterling.

“I let my account be used for it. It was three lads, but I was mainly dealing with one lad, his life is under threat at the moment,” Sulambi told gardaí.

Gda Healy agreed with Seán Rafter BL, defending, that Sulambi was at the lower echelon of the money-laundering operation.

The court heard that Reynolds Logistics paid ENTS some money towards the lost invoice but that the money was never recovered.

Salumbi has two previous convictions for violent disorder and possession of an article in July 2019, for which he received a two-and-a-half-year sentence with the final year suspended.

Mr Rafter said that due to the complexity of the money-laundering investigation, there had been a delay of two years in prosecuting his client’s case.

The court heard that Sulambi now works full-time in a construction company and had brought €2,500 to court by way of compensation.

Sulambi’s employer, Mr Eddie Brewer, took to the witness stand and said he had employed the accused knowing of his previous conviction but willing to give him a chance, as he seemed like a decent person.

Mr Brewer said Sulambi was an important and hard-working member of their company.

He said Sulambi was going out with his daughter and they were expecting a child together.

“If I had any doubt that Joyce was at risk of letting us all down, I would not be here today,” said Mr Brewer, adding that he had never set foot in a courtroom before and he would never offer his support again were Sulambi to reoffend.

Judge Pauline Codd paid tribute to Mr Brewer’s honesty, integrity and decency, and also referred to the many testimonials received by the court on behalf of Sulambi.

Judge Codd noted that Sulambi’s best friend said he had gone through “a spell of recklessness” following the death of his father but said he seemed to have learnt a valuable lesson while in custody and is determined now to work hard.

“I’m going to give him a chance,” said Judge Codd, however she ordered Sulambi to pay a further sum of €2,500 to Reynolds Logistics within the next months.

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