False Accounting

A person is guilty of an offence if he or she dishonestly, with the intention of making a gain for himself or herself or another, or of causing loss to another—

  • destroys, defaces, conceals or falsifies any account or any document made or required for any accounting purpose,
  • fails to make or complete any account or any such document, or
  • in furnishing information for any purpose produces or makes use of any account, or any such document, which to his or her knowledge is or may be misleading, false or deceptive in a material particular.

A person is treated as falsifying an account or other document if he or she makes or concurs in making therein an entry which is or may be misleading, false or deceptive in a material particular, or  omits or concurs in omitting a material particular therefrom.

A person guilty of false accounting is liable on conviction on indictment to a fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years or both.

False Accounting Acts

False accounting may comprise any one of a number of acts. They include

  • destroying documents made for accounting purposes,
  • defacing an account,
  • destroying an account,
  • defacing documents made for accounting purposes,
  • concealing documents made for accounting purposes,
  • falsifying an account,
  • concealing an account,
  • falsifying documents made and required for accounting purposes,
  • failing to make accounts
  • failing to make documents made or required for accounting purposes,
  • failure to complete accounts,
  • failure to complete documents for accounting purposes.

It also arises arises when the person in furnishing information for any purposes

  • produces or uses an account
  • produces or uses a document made or required for accounting purposes

which to the person’s knowledge is or may be misleading, false or deceptive.

Elements of False Accounting

The required intention is to dishonestly make a gain for himself or for another or cause a loss, together with the knowledge that the account or document is or may be misleading, false or deceptive in a material respect.

In the case of the offences involving the production of documents and accounts or their falsification, it is probably necessary that the person knows that they are for an accounting purpose.

Falsification is deemed to occur if a person makes or concurs in making an entry which is or may be misleading, false or deceptive in a material respect or omits or concurs in omitting a material particular from it. It has been held that the offence is committed where an employed person intentionally falsifies accounts in order to make his department appear more profitable for the purpose of retention of employment. The making by beneficiaries of a trust of a false claim for expenses was sufficient to make out the offence.

The offence may be committed by an omission.  A failure to record entries in an accounting system whether directly by way of conventional accounts or through other recording by equivalent devices would be sufficient.

The relevant falsification, misleading information, omission or deception must be in relation to something which is a material particular.  It must be important in that it mattered. Once the document is false in a material respect, the test is satisfied.  The material respect in which the document is false, need not be for the accounting purpose or relevant to the accounting purpose.

Accounts and Documents

An account includes an account or record.  This may include an automatic machine such as a taximeter, turnstile or equivalent. The offence is constituted when the relevant document is made.  It need not actually succeed in its objective or benefit the defendant in any way.

A document includes any map, plan, graph, drawing, photograph or record or reproduction in permanent legible form by a computer or other means, including enlargement, of information not in a legible form.

The document must be made or acquired for an accounting purpose in respect of certain of the above-mentioned versions of the offence.  It has been held that false loan particulars in a proposal form sent for the purpose of a loan, involved the falsification of a document required for accounting purposes. An application for a grant was held to be for accounting purposes.

Supressing Documents

It is an offence where a person knows or suspects that a Garda investigation into an offence under the Theft and Fraud Offences Act is likely to be carried out, falsifies, conceals, destroys or otherwise disposes of a document or record which he knows or suspects is or would be relevant to the investigation or causes or permits falsification, concealment, destruction or disposal.

Where any of the above is done in circumstances in which it is reasonable to conclude that the person knew or suspected that a Garda Síochána investigation was being or was likely to be carried out and that the document would be relevant, he shall be taken to so know and suspect unless the court or jury is satisfied that there is a reasonable doubt as to whether he knew or suspected.  The person guilty of an offence under this provision section is liable to imprisonment up to five years and/or a fine.

Obligation to Report Offences

A “relevant person” must support any suspected offence to the Gardai,   including theft, deception, unlawful use of computers, false accounting, suppression of documents.  A firm means any partnership, corporate or incorporated body or a self-employed person. A “relevant person” includes:

  • an auditor
  • any person with a view to reward, assists, or advises a firm in the preparation of information or declaration, return or account which the person knows will be or is likely to be used for the purpose of keeping or auditing accounts of the firm.

It does not include an employee who in that capacity so advises or assists and who is paid exclusively under Schedule E of the Taxes Act.

Where the accounts of a firm or a relevant document of the above type, indicate that an offence may have been committed or an offence may have been committed in relation to its affairs by a partner of the firm, director, manager, or other employee or self-employed person, the above categories of persons, notwithstanding, professional privilege or confidentiality, must report the same to the Gardai. Disclosure in good faith is not to be treated as a breach of any restriction imposed by statute or otherwise.

A person who fails to have a reasonable excuse to comply with the duty is guilty of an offence subject to a fine of up to £1500 or imprisonment up to 12 months or both.

Related Offences

It is an offence to dishonestly interfere with official documents for the purpose of making a gain or causing a loss. Interference may consist of destroying, defacing or concealing the document.  The documents include valuable securities, wills and other original documents filed or deposited in any court or government department.  Documents also include maps, plans, photographs, records, reproductions in a permanent form of information in non-legible form whether by computer or otherwise.

It is an offence to dishonestly procure by deception the execution of a valuable security.  The maximum penalty for these offences is 10 years imprisonment and/or fine.

A person guilty of an offence is subject on conviction on indictment to imprisonment to up to 10 years or to a fine.


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