Disgraced ex-Fianna Fáil adviser Frank Dunlop continued to act as a company director from his prison cell despite being disqualified after his conviction for bribing public representatives.
The ex-RTÉ presenter signed off on company documents for two of his firms while serving his sentence for corruption offences.
Acting as a director while disqualified is an indictable criminal offence under company law, while prison regulations prohibit convicts from operating businesses while imprisoned.
The Irish Prison Service has refused to explain how Dunlop’s signature as a director of his PR consultancy appeared on official CRO returns submitted while he was serving his 14-month prison sentence.
One jail term. Two companies
Ex-Fianna Fáil press secretary and public relations consultant Frank Dunlop was convicted in January 2009 of paying bribes to a number of local councillors and senators for rezoning land in Carrickmines, south county Dublin.
The county Meath-based Dunlop was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, with six months suspended, at Dublin Central Criminal Court in May 2009.
Under corporate law Dunlop was automatically disqualified from acting as a company director for five years from January 2009 as a result of his corruption conviction.
Though Dunlop’s disqualification was formally recorded by the CRO he continued to act as director of his PR firm, Nairo Consulting Ltd (formerly Frank Dunlop & Associates Ltd). He also remained a director of another investment company even while serving his sentence in Arbour Hill Prison in Dublin.
Records obtained by The Ditch show that Nairo Consulting submitted its annual filing to the CRO on 25 September, 2009. The annual return and abridged financial statements bore the signature of Frank Dunlop and were dated 22 September, 2009, when the former Fianna Fáil man was three months into his prison sentence.
Less than three months later, Dunlop again managed to sign official company documents, this time on behalf of his property investment firm Shefran Ltd, while still incarcerated. Dunlop’s signature as director of Shefran appears on the company’s B1 annual return form bearing the date December 8, 2009.
Dunlop acted as a director of both his companies for the entire period of his prison sentence and disqualification.
Acting as a company officer while disqualified is a criminal offence punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment under the Companies Acts. Only unconvicted prisoners on remand are allowed to run a business under the Prison Rules, 2007.
When asked why Dunlop was allowed to illegally operate his company while imprisoned an Irish Prison Service spokesperson said it “does not comment on individual prisoner cases”.
A spokesperson for the Corporate Enforcement Authority told The Ditch that “owing to statutory obligations of confidentiality, the CEA does not comment upon its investigative activities”.
Dunlop declined to comment.