Tuesday 26 September 2017

Console founder is being chased for return of over €150,000 in grants

Liquidator report to be submitted to the ODCE which is investigating alleged breaches of company law at charity

Paul Kelly, former chief of Console. Photo: Robbie Reynolds
Paul Kelly, former chief of Console. Photo: Robbie Reynolds
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

An unpublished report on the suicide charity, Console, has slated its founder for abusing funds donated to the organisation.

The draft report, by the liquidator appointed to the charity, found that public funds were misused and wrongly allocated, with €80,000 at one point transferred from Console's UK office to Console in Ireland, according to informed sources.

While the UK office racked up a €112,000 credit bill on airfares, groceries, clothing, restaurants, train fares and entertainment, Console in Ireland picked up the tab.

The report will add pressure on Paul Kelly, founder and former chief executive, who quit the charity last year after details of his extravagant spending were revealed.

Kelly and his wife, Patricia, are heavily criticised by the liquidator for misusing charity credit cards and claiming of expenses.

A final copy of the report is expected to be sent to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement which is investigating alleged breaches of company law at the charity and by Kelly and his wife.

The liquidator's findings may lead to an application to disqualify the pair from being company directors in the future.

Console, a high-profile suicide bereavement charity, collapsed last year after revelations that Kelly, his wife and son racked up bills of €660,000 in four years on the charity's credit cards for clothes, foreign travel, restaurants and grocery shopping.

Read More: 'To think another Console could never happen would be naive'

The liquidator was appointed to the charity by the High Court weeks later, after hearing that the charity was €294,000 in debt.

In another development, the liquidator, Tom Murray, is believed to have met last week with businesses and individuals who are owed thousands by the charity.

It is understood the liquidator has recovered little from selling the charity's assets, which include two company cars and a property on the Navan Road.

At what is likely to be the final general meeting of the charity, creditors including the Revenue Commissioners, were briefed on the slim prospects of recovering their debt.

The Revenue Commissioners is believed to be owed significantly more than its original estimate of €63,000 last year. Other creditors include former staff of the charity and the Clayton Hotel in Dublin which is owed around €20,000 for accommodating a group of cyclists on a charity event. The phone company, Eir, has an outstanding bill of €23,000.

Details have emerged as the Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed that it has written to Kelly and his wife, Patricia, a director, demanding the return of €150,889 in grants. The money was intended to fund the charity's bereavement services in the UK but it appears that much of those funds were not spent in accordance with the grant agreement.A statement issued last Friday said that following the conclusion of an audit, the department was "seeking the repayment of the money."

The grants were provided under the Emigrant Support Programme, which funds projects for Irish communities abroad.

Sunday Independent

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