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Saturday 23 September 2017

Board members bill Rehab for huge fees

Consultancy and project work among services provided

Frank Flannery
Frank Flannery
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

Rehab has paid tens of thousands of euro in "professional fees" to some of its own directors or their companies, the Sunday Independent can reveal.

The disability charity, which has been summoned before the Public Accounts Committee after it refused to reveal its chief executive's salary, regularly contracted out work to companies linked to directors on its board.

Politicians expressed unease last week at disclosures that Frank Flannery, a former Fine Gael strategist and a director of Rehab, billed the charity for €66,000 and €11,000 in 2011 and 2012 for consultancy work.

The Sunday Independent has learnt that a number of other Rehab directors also benefitted from their association with the charity.

A surveying/project management firm in which Barry Keogh is a partner was paid more than €80,000 in four years for work done for Rehab.

Gene Lambert, an artist and another long-standing director of Rehab, was paid €35,000 over the same period.

A company owned by former vice-chairman of Rehab, accountant John Hussey, was paid more than €300,000 by the charity in 2004 and 2005. The fees related to professional management consultancy services he provided through his company, Hussey & Co.

The payments to directors or their companies are disclosed in Rehab Group's annual reports, which also show they claimed travel expenses of €35,000 in five years.

The billing of Rehab by directors or their companies will add to unease about salary scales and lottery activities at the latest State-funded charity to come under public scrutiny.

Sinn Fein criticised Mr Flannery's consultancy fees in the Dail last week. Aengus O Snodaigh said his "billing the company for services using a dissolved company" suggested "something is wrong in the state of Denmark".

Frank Flannery said last week that the income from Rehab was fully accounted for and his VAT and tax situation was in order. The fees to his company were also recorded in Rehab's Group accounts.

A spokesman for Rehab said that directors on the board of Rehab were not paid fees. He said the "organisations you mentioned in your questions provide professional services to Rehab Group and as our board members are involved with them, they have to be properly declared in our annual accounts".

Rehab came under fire last week for refusing to reveal the salary of its CEO Angela Kerins. Political pressure escalated last week with the Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly, questioning whether State funding could continue if Ms Kerins's salary was not disclosed. Justice Minister Alan Shatter has separately criticised the low profit margin from its State-subsidised lottery company.

Ms Kerins's salary was disclosed as €234,000 in 2011 and she has refused to answer further questions about it.

The HSE has been auditing salaries at State-funded health agencies but its audit does not encompass the Rehab Group. The group operates commercial enterprises such as glass recycling alongside State-funded disability training.

The board will meet on February 17 to consider whether to make Ms Kerins's salary public.

 

REHAB CHIEF EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS' FEES FROM MANY SOURCES

Rehab chief executive Angela Kerins has earned €220,000 from her membership of boards which she says she has donated to charity.

They include:

* €66,600 from Post Bank between 2007 and 2010;

* €64,300 by the Health Information and Quality Authority from 2007-12;

* €61,700 for chairing the Equality Authority 2008-12;

* €25,900 from the former Broadcasting Commission of Ireland, 2006 and 2009.

The charity boss has also served a number of other State boards in the past, including the National Council for the Elderly, the National Disability Authority and Fas International Consulting.

Irish Independent

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