A MAN has appeared in court on charges relating to false claims made for the Pandemic Unemployment Payment over a five-month period amounting to a total of €6,650.
Pakistan native Khurram Cheema, who is now an Irish national, appeared before Bandon District Court having already had five charges put to him when he was arrested on March 24 last.
Sergeant Kevin Heffernan said he made no reply when these charges were put to him and he was released on bail.
Cheema was arrested again at 10.20am yesterday (Thursday) morning after meeting Gardai by appointment at Bandon Courthouse where he was charged with another 15 charges of stealing various sums at AIB’s Patrick Street branch in Cork city.
Again he made no reply to the charges.
Cheema, who now works as a courier with an address at Zunera Lodge, Quayside House on Pier Road, Kinsale, and who is now living at Kippagh, Dunmanway, Co Cork is accused of the theft arising from claiming the PUP from April 21 to September 29 last year.
Gardaí believe the 39-year-old was in Pakistan at the time the claims were made and not in Ireland, which is a requirement when claiming the Covid-19 related payments.
The court was told that Cheema had operated as a taxi driver but his PSV licence had expired, was not renewed and was now working as a courier.
Gardai had no objection to bail but required a number of strict bail conditions.
One of these is that he hand over all his travel documents including his Irish passport and his Pakistan passport which the court heard had expired.
Graham Hyde, defending lawyer said his client was an Irish national and had given Gardai his Irish passport.
He said his client had an expired Pakistani passport and Judge Colm Roberts requested that that also be surrendered.
Mr Hyde told the court that his client was not a flight risk. He was self employed and had just successfully applied for his wife and children to join him in Ireland from Pakistan.
Mr Hyde said: “The centre of his business and family are here and he is not looking to leave the country.”
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Cheema opted for the matter to be dealt with in the District Court and Judge Roberts said he would accept jurisdiction.
His application for free legal aid was put on hold as the Judge asked for him to provide a statement of means to be handed into the Gardai initially to consider and then to him.
The case was adjourned to May 20 next when either a plea will be entered or a date will be fixed for a hearing.