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Wednesday 17 September 2014

Developer Kelly interviewed over contents of Rehab letter

Shane Phelan, Niall O'Connor and Lise Hand

Published 04/04/2014 | 02:30

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Angela  Kerins. Photo: Tom Burke
Angela Kerins. Photo: Tom Burke

DETECTIVES have interviewed property developer John Kelly over the contents of a letter which sets out his dealings with individuals connected with the Rehab Group.

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Officers from the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation met with Mr Kelly in Dublin on Wednesday – almost three weeks after he sent correspondence to the Dail's Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

The Irish Independent understands that Mr Kelly told detectives that he is standing firmly over a series of claims he made about his plans to purchase the Rehab headquarters in Sandymount in 2006.

PAC members decided that the allegations being made by Mr Kelly were a matter for the gardai.

The Wicklow businessman previously claimed that he spent over €100,000 on travel and hospitality for the outgoing Rehab chief executive Angela Kerins and the group's former PR adviser Michael Parker.

Separately, Mr Kelly paid Mr Parker, a director of Insight Communications, €40,000 in 2006, when they were both involved in a property development firm. Mr Parker denies there was anything untoward about this payment and says it was not related in any way to Rehab.

The board of Rehab recently confirmed it had considered relocating its headquarters during the boom. However, it eventually decided to retain its Sandymount offices.

Mr Kelly told this newspaper recently that he discussed the possible sale of the Rehab HQ with Ms Kerins and Mr Parker – a claim they have fervently denied.

The matter is now being examined by fraud squad detectives who were forwarded the letter by the clerk of the PAC.

Mr Kelly has indicated that he would be willing to appear in front of PAC to discuss the claims contained in his letter.

Meanwhile, Enda Kenny has led calls for outgoing CEO Ms Kerins to appear in front of PAC. "Anybody involved in Section 38 and Section 39 should appear before the Public Accounts Committee," the Taoiseach said.

"I expect that the former chief executive should go before the PAC and she will have her story to tell," he added.

Committee chairman John McGuinness also said he "absolutely expects" Ms Kerins and former board member Frank Flannery to appear before it next week.

The comments came as the spending watchdog disclosed it had received no formal confirmation from Rehab as to who would attend.

A spokesman for Rehab said that chairman Brian Kerr, and members of its remuneration committee and finance director Keith Poole had confirmed they would attend the PAC hearing on April 10.

Rehab said it has asked Angela Kerins and Frank Flannery to also attend but said it had not yet received confirmation of whether they would do so.

On Wednesday Ms Kerins's announced her retirement. She was today due to finish with the charity and commercial group, where she has been paid annual salary of €240,000.

CONTROVERSY

However, she will continue to assist in the running of the group for a further period.

Despite the public comments of the Rehab spokesman, members of the PAC expressed concern yesterday that there had been no formal confirmation of who would be in attendance.

Chairman John McGuinness said he "absolutely expects" Ms Kerins and Mr Flannery to attend next week's hearing.

"It is no harm to make it clear that we intend to pursue our work next Thursday as agreed," Mr McGuinness said.

The committee was due to write to Rehab yesterday to seek clarity on who will be attending.

Committee member and Independent TD Shane Ross said a "very stiff reminder" should be sent.

Another committee member, Fine Gael TD Paul Connaughton, described Rehab as "extremely secretive" and said getting information from them was like "pulling teeth".

It will be the second PAC hearing in just two months involving Rehab, which receives over €80m in state funding.

Irish Independent

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