A GOVERNMENT body decided not to press criminal charges against a company that had supplied it with fraudulent accounting documents.

A routine claim for €27,062 had been made by a company to Enterprise Ireland seeking grant approval using a forged report from an accountant.

However, Enterprise Ireland decided to take no further action against the company, fearing adverse publicity, according to sources familiar with the case.

The forged document was only uncovered after a grant payment officer in Enterprise Ireland realised that the claim was not on official headed paper, as it should to have been.

According to documents obtained by the Sunday Tribune, the civil servant then contacted the accountancy firm of Grant Thornton to find out if it had prepared the report.

Correspondence from the controversy states: "[The grant payment officer] contacted the Accountant (from Grant Thornton) ... who confirmed that they had not prepared the report and had not been contacted by the company to do so.

"The issue was regarded by Enterprise Ireland as being a serious breach of trust and the company was informed of the finding and told that the claims were on hold pending satisfactory resolution.

"Enterprise Ireland met with Grant Thornton and were informed that the matter had been referred to them by the Fraud Squad."

Enterprise Ireland then made an inspection visit to the company and looked at the claims submitted. It concluded that the claims had been "in general, in order" with some "normal type of ineligible expenditure being disallowed".

Enterprise Ireland then agreed that it would pay out on the claims on condition the company received "written confirmation" from the Fraud Squad that the matter was closed.

The Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation then contacted Enterprise Ireland to ask it if it planned to make an official complaint as it was considered the "injured party".

Correspondence from Enterprise Ireland says: "We will not be submitting a criminal complaint in respect of the incident as: the details submitted in the company's claim were inspected and there was no detection of deliberate monetary fraud, [and] no payment has been made to the company in respect of the claims."

Further investigations revealed that previous reports submitted by the company involved had also been sent on forged paper.

Another letter prepared for the Audit Committee of Enterprise Ireland says: "We checked previous claims received from [the company], which had been submitted on Grant Thornton headed paper and scanned these to Grant Thornton for confirmation that they had prepared the claims.

"Grant Thornton confirmed that they had not prepared the claims and that the headed paper used was not, in fact, Grant Thornton headed paper.

"These claims had already been inspected by Enterprise Ireland's Grant Inspection. One of the claims was disallowed in total as it was claiming second-hand equipment, which is not eligible expenditure. The value of this claim is €29,750.

"The second claim was for €73,423. Of this, €58,154 has been cleared for payment. However, payment had not been made.

A statement from Enterprise Ireland said: "As is our custom and practice, it is Enterprise Ireland policy not to make statements about grant applications or grant claims relating to individual client companies."