Tuesday 6 December 2016

Console chief's spend set to top €500,000 as fresh audits due today

We haven’t even looked at 2015 yet, says interim CEO

Robin Schiller

Published 04/07/2016 | 02:30

The massive spending by the disgraced chief of Console on the organisation's credit cards is expected to rise to over €500,000 as fresh audits are carried out today.

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Paul Kelly, who resigned as chief executive of the suicide-bereavement charity, and his wife Patricia are at the centre of an investigation into colossal spending of the group's funds.

David Hall driving away the Mercedes CLS, one of two cars recovered at the weekend that had cost Console almost €90,000
David Hall driving away the Mercedes CLS, one of two cars recovered at the weekend that had cost Console almost €90,000

It has emerged that Kelly, who is in his late 50s, was detained by gardaí after concerns had been raised over his wellbeing in the wake of the damning revelations.

Work commenced over the weekend to recover assets in the couple's possession that had been purchased with credit cards registered to Console.

Read more: Former Console CEO Paul Kelly and wife relinquish company cars and credit cards after 10 days of turmoil over finances

It has been established that the couple - along with their son Tim - spent almost €465,000 on 11 of Console's 20 credit cards.

David Hall driving away the Mercedes CLS, one of two cars recovered at the weekend that had cost Console almost €90,000
David Hall driving away the Mercedes CLS, one of two cars recovered at the weekend that had cost Console almost €90,000

However, the interim CEO of Console, David Hall, has said this figure is expected to increase even further after more investigations are carried out today.

He explained: "The figure (of €464,777) is the expenditure between 2012 and 2014. The numbers for 2015, we haven't looked at them in detail yet, that will be done on Monday.

"But given the behaviour in spending - which is similar to the previous years - the number will mathematically have to increase."

Mr Hall, who is also the director of the Irish Mortgage Holder's Association, will meet with Justice Paul Gilligan tomorrow morning to provide an update

A previous sitting of the High Court last week heard that Paul Kelly had not been in contact with his solicitors for a number of days and concerns had been raised about his personal safety.

Read more: Disgraced Console CEO Paul Kelly picked up by gardai for his own personal safety

Paul Kelly: detained by gardaí and now taken into care. Photo: Conor McCabe Photography
Paul Kelly: detained by gardaí and now taken into care. Photo: Conor McCabe Photography

He had not been sighted since leaving Console's office in Celbridge, Co Kildare, on Tuesday afternoon.

However, it has emerged that he was picked up by gardaí in south Dublin last Thursday.

Officers had become aware of fears over his wellbeing, and detained him in the Dún Laoghaire area.

He was brought to a garda station, where he was assessed by a medical professional before being taken into care.

A source stated that the garda matter was purely in relation to his wellbeing.

Among the vast expenditure discovered by auditors was an €80 speeding fine. A motoring fine was charged to a Console card on January 23, 2012, and it was stated that this was incurred for urgent travel to a "critical incident of suicide".

However, auditors noted that a payment of a motoring fine "is a payment in relation to a person breaking the law and is not an appropriate use of public funds and charitable donations".

Paul Kelly also racked up restaurant bills of over €10,000, while his son Tim purchased clothing worth more than €3,000 on a Console credit card.

Solicitors for the couple attended the handover of assets on Saturday afternoon in Bewley's Hotel, Ballsbridge.

The legal team arranged for a 2010 Audi Q5 and a 2009 Mercedes CLS to be collected from the family home in Clane, Co Kildare.

Both vehicles were purchased by Console and cost the charity almost €90,000.

The chairman of the Dáil's Public Accounts Committee, Seán Fleming, has written to the HSE, asking representatives to attend the committee in early July to answer questions about its funding of bodies including Console and others.

Deputy Fleming said the HSE handed out billions of euro of taxpayers' money to voluntary hospitals and charities, yet did not appear to know what is going on.

He also told RTÉ's 'Marian Finucane Show' that questions would be raised over why there was not earlier intervention.

The HSE has confirmed that it is investigating the payments.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Simon Harris said that the charity's report made for "harrowing reading" and that elements of the report were "disturbing and disgusting".

Speaking on RTÉ's 'The Week in Politics', Mr Harris said he was very concerned about the revelations and would be speaking to HSE officials about the matter tomorrow.

Sinn Féin's deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald TD said there were questions for the Government and successive Ministers for Health over the failure of proper oversight.

She said: "It is outrageous and unacceptable that charity organisations in receipt of huge public funding continue to break the rules on public pay.

"Clearly, our work is not finished. Serious questions arise in respect of the HSE and its oversight and management of funds to these organisations."

Read more: It's easy to miss the detail and get carried away by the story

Read more: Paul Kelly billed €80 speeding fine to Console for 'rush to suicide emergency'

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