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Monday 15 September 2014

Famed charity boss lied in bid to get US grant

Tom Lyons

Published 13/07/2006 | 00:11

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A RENOWNED charity boss famed for his work in Africa lied about his qualifications when attempting to apply for a multi million grant in the United States.

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'Doctor' Mike Meegan now admits he got his doctorate from Knightsbridge University which trades from a Danish post office box.

Mr Meegan is a former International Man of the Year (2003) for his work as the head of a charity called Icross in Africa.

However, events that same year led to an audit being ordered by the development arm of the US government into the financial affairs of Icross Kenya.

Former FBI consultant and 'degree mills' expert, Dr John Bear, said: "Knightsbridge most emphatically is not licensed or recognised by the Danish government (or any other government on Earth), and its degrees are as useless in Denmark as they are in Ireland or anywhere else.

"It is my belief that if 'Dr' Meegan were to call himself "Doctor" (in person, in a speech, or a letter) in New Jersey, Illinois, Oregon, Texas, and the various other such states, he would be committing a criminal offence, subject to fine and even, in some places, imprisonment."

Earlier this year, Meegan received an honorary degree from the National University of Ireland for his "services to humanity".

Two members of the NUI committee, Caroline Hussey and Benedict Reid, in proposing him for the prestigious award, signed a statement on November 3, 2005 stating Meegan was a doctor and "an NUI medical graduate (RCSI)".

Contacted yesterday, NUI register Attracta Halpin said: "His qualifications are not a concern for us. It's not an issue."

The nomination also stated he was a "research collaborator" with Duke University. Duke University did consider collaborating with Meegan in 2005. However, his qualifications became an issue when he applied with Duke to obtain a grant of $2.5m (?2m) from the US National Institute of Health for a major study of home care of HIV/AIDS.

Meegan stated in his part of the application that he had a PhD in medical anthropology.

The proposal was revised several times but at no stage did Meegan inform Duke his doctorate was not recognised by the US government or anywhere else.

He also attended a major US conference where his official bio, which he approved, stated he had a "doctorate in medical anthropology from Trinity College in Dublin Ireland".

Concerned

Duke became concerned about his academic qualifications; and with Meegan refusing to state where he received his doctorate, was forced to drop him from the grant consortium.

In a separate development, serious financial management issues at Icross Kenya led to USAID ordering PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) to carry out an audit of its accounts which was completed in 2004. Icross received funds from USAID via Family Health International (FHI), a major non-governmental agency.

Meegan said: "The report and the FHI financial controller concluded that FHI and Icross field staff in 2002 did not account for funds and further that those staff were fired by both organisations."

The conclusions of PWC issued in 2004, however, point to a much more serious problem. The report makes three recommendations to Icross Kenya, which was set up in 1979 but appears at the time of the audit not to have developed proper financial controls.

Recommendation number one stated: "We recommend that USAID/Kenya determine the allowability of questioned costs totalling $94,685 and recover from Icross any amounts determined to be unallowable."

Recommendation number two stated the organisation had 10 "reportable internal control weaknesses". Items questioned included monthly payrolls and errors in reports.

Its final recommendation was that: "USAID/Kenya ensure that Icross corrects the four material instances of non-compliance (excess grants received, questioned costs, questioned cost sharing contributions, and procurement policies)."

The Irish Independent was unable to confirm whether the PWC recommendations had been implemented in Icross Kenya and Meegan has declined to furnish copies of his latest Kenyan financial accounts and audits.

From the early 1990s until around 2001, the accounts of Icross Kenya were audited by a man called Pal Tethy, whose brother Davinda was on the Kenyan board of Icross for many years. Nyagari & Associates replaced Mr Tethy and in 2002 concluded Icross Kenya had "weaknesses" in its financial performance.

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