Irish News

Friday 1 August 2014

Garda fraud squad to interview developer over Rehab allegations

MAEVE SHEEHAN

Published 23/03/2014|02:30

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THE Garda fraud squad is set to interview property developer John Kelly over allegations he has made about Rehab.

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The property developer made his claims in a letter to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which is examining the salaries and charity lottery activities at the disability organisation. Mr Kelly's allegations do not relate to these issues.

The chairman of the PAC, John McGuinness, sent Mr Kelly's letter to the Garda Commissioner, who has in turn passed it on to the Garda National Fraud Bureau.

Detectives contacted Mr Kelly in recent days with a view to interviewing him about his claims, after which they will decide whether to launch an investigation.

The Rehab Group has yet to receive a copy of Mr Kelly's statement, but the claims will be vehemently denied.

One of the first things detectives will be looking for is what, if any, evidence Mr Kelly has to back his claims. Mr Kelly now lives in Britain, so it's not clear when his interview with detectives will take place.

In a statement last weekend, the Rehab Group protested at its "unfair" treatment by the PAC. It said that for the PAC to comment publicly, "without having first given those persons who are said to be the subject of the allegations an opportunity to see and respond to them, was grossly unfair". This had caused "serious harm to the Rehab Group, to individuals within the Rehab Group and to its employees", the statement said.

Mr McGuinness said that Mr Kelly's letter contained serious allegations "against named individuals who have, or had, association with the Rehab Group".

Mr Kelly, who borrowed thousands during the boom, was a friend of the jailed solicitor Thomas Byrne. During his trial for a €51m mortgage fraud, Byrne tried to blame John Kelly for encouraging the mortgage fraud, claiming he borrowed money to support the developer's lifestyle. Investigators could find no evidence of his involvement.

The Rehab Group is due back before the PAC on April 10. The disability organisation's former chief executive, Frank Flannery, is expected to appear, although the PAC has not yet received formal confirmation.

Mr Flannery will face questions on his pension from the Rehab Group and the payments he received for lobbying for the Rehab Group while serving on the board. The disclosures about his paid lobbying triggered his resignation from Fine Gael, where he was an electoral strategist, from the Rehab Group and from the State-funded Forum on Philanthropy.

Sunday Independent

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