Query on invoice linked to Kerins family overruled by finance head
AN accountant in Rehab questioned an invoice for a coffin importation company owned by Angela Kerins and her family – but was overruled by the group financial director.
At yesterday's PAC hearing, Keith Poole, the group financial director who cleared the payment, said he would not have approved the arrangement with "hindsight".
The charity lost €60,000 importing coffins from China which were to be assembled by the Rehab Group in Ireland.
Ms Kerins, her husband, Sean, brother, Joseph McCarthy, and former Rehab CEO Frank Flannery were all directors of a company that sold coffins to the charity.
The coffins were destined for an arm of the organisation in Kilkenny which had 29 employees at the time – 17 of which were people with disabilities.
Complete Eco Solutions was paid €70,000 for importing 528 coffins from China in 2010.
The coffin venture fell through and they were eventually sold two years later for €10,000.
Ms Kerins had previously denied that a conflict of interest arose from her family members' involvement in the transaction.
Sinn Fein TD Mary Lou McDonald asked Mr Poole if there was a "controversy" among his controllers about the payment.
"One of my financial controllers was asked to sign the cheque and called me and asked me was it in order," Mr Poole responded. Mr Poole said the accountant refused to sign the cheque until he had spoken with him about the payment.
Asked why he refused to sign the invoice, Mr Poole said it because it was a "connected party".
Ms McDonald also noted Complete Eco Solutions was registered as a company after the coffin deal was approved by Rehab's board.
"It looks like Rehab choose, rather than to import materials directly, to use a third party," she said.
"It looks like the company was formed for that express purpose.
"Those who had ownership or an interest in that company were closely related to the CEO of the time."
The company was registered in December 2009 but minutes of a Rehab board meeting, supplied to the PAC, show the firm's connection to Ms Kerin's family was discussed at a meeting the previous month.