I spent €100,000 entertaining Rehab bosses – developer
Published 03/03/2014 | 02:30
REHAB chief Angela Kerins has rejected claims she discussed selling the charity's headquarters with a developer who brought her on a helicopter trip.
However, John Kelly – a former business partner of jailed solicitor Thomas Byrne – last night reiterated that he discussed with Ms Kerins the potential sale of Rehab's headquarters in Sandymount, Dublin 4.
Mr Kelly made the comments after it emerged that the embattled Rehab chief and other charity executives used his private helicopter to travel around Ireland and the UK.
The Wicklow businessman claims he spent over €100,000 on flights and hospitality for Ms Kerins and other Rehab officials to increase his chances of securing the land deal.
Last night, Rehab released a statement claiming that the charity "at no point" considered selling or transferring the property, known as Roslyn Park, to Mr Kelly.
"Ms Kerins knew Mr Kelly personally some years ago. However, her (social) dealings with him in the past were completely unrelated to the business of the Rehab Group," the statement said.
However, Mr Kelly told the Irish Independent he did discuss the potential sale with Ms Kerins and Rehab's PR adviser Michael Parker and said he would accept an invitation from the Public Accounts Committee to discuss the matter.
He said he pursued a "strategy" which involved trying to "raise his profile" with Rehab and in particular Ms Kerins, who earns a salary of €240,000.
Mr Kelly said he flew Ms Kerins and Mr Parker to London on a private jet, where they dined in Michelin-star restaurants.
He claimed that he was introduced to Ms Kerins by Mr Parker and that she later invited him to a Fianna Fail fundraiser.
Mr Kelly insisted he did not make an offer for the lands but discussed the prospect of acquiring the headquarters with Ms Kerins and Mr Parker.
“Yes, I did,” he said when asked if he ever discussed the potential sale with Kerins.
“The first issue identified was that the group would have to be relocated to suitable purpose-built headquarters and we looked at land options in south Dublin.”
He said he now wishes to give his version to the Public Accounts Committee.
Last night, PAC chairman John McGuinness indicated that Mr Kelly may be invited to appear in front of its members.
“Our job is to examine the business of Rehab with a specific focus on public funds.
“What Mr Kelly is claiming certainly appears to be of interest to the PAC and the prospect of inviting him to appear will, I believe, be discussed on Thursday.”
In a statement, Rehab said Ms Kerins was “shocked” at the claims made by Mr Kelly, which were published in yesterday's ‘Sunday Times'.
“Ms Kerins knew Mr Kelly personally some years ago. However, her (social) dealings with him in the past were completely unrelated to the business of the Rehab Group.
“Ms Kerins has not met Mr Kelly socially for at least three years,” a spokesperson said last night. The article referred to some past social occasions. It is critically important to note that these were purely social occasions.
“None of them related to the business of the Rehab Group. None of them were convened with the purpose of discussing the possible transfer of the Roslyn Park property.
“Ms Kerins did not receive an offer from Mr Kelly. However, and fundamentally, the transfer of the property to Mr Kelly was never considered by the Rehab Group.”
Mr Kelly was the single biggest client of Thomas Byrne, who was jailed for 12 years after he was convicted of stealing almost €52m from six banks and defrauding 13 clients out of their houses or money.
As a major property developer, Mr Kelly's lifestyle included a yacht in Marbella and a helicopter.
The tycoon famously paid pop group Girls Aloud €100,000 to perform at his step-daughter's 21st birthday party in 2007.
However, during Byrne's theft and fraud trial, the former solicitor described Mr Kelly as a “psychopath” who forced him to become a property magnate against his will.