Irish News

Saturday 2 August 2014

Rehab's dead money after oak coffins sold for €40 each

Maeve Sheehan

Published 09/03/2014|02:30

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Oak coffins. Thinkstock

REHAB lost money on a deal to buy coffins from a company co-owned by the charity chief executive's husband.

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The disability organisation bought the coffins from a company co-owned by Angela Kerins's husband, Sean, her brother, Joseph McCarthy, and Frank Flannery, a fellow director of Rehab. Their firm, Complete Eco Solutions, initially billed Rehab Enterprises for €255,552 for importing 528 coffins from China on January 4, 2010, according to an invoice seen by the Sunday Independent.

But Rehab said while it was billed for €255,552, it actually paid Eco Solutions just €70,000, after reducing the consignment of coffins. Rehab hoped to refit the coffins and sell them, but the venture failed. The charity sold the remaining coffins two years later for €10,000 plus VAT.

The new disclosures have emerged in invoices and documents sent anonymously to the PAC in recent days.

Ms Kerins offered sparse detail about the coffin enterprise when she was questioned about Rehab's relationship with her husband's firm, Complete Eco Solutions, at the PAC last Thursday week.

She denied there was a conflict of interest. She said the company owned by her husband, brother and her co-director at the charity were "helping out". Rehab Enterprises, a commercial company within the Rehab Group, had been exploring importing coffins from China to be reassembled and refitted in its Kilkenny premises.

"It was a pilot project that did not progress. There was no further involvement by Complete Eco Solutions Ltd," she said.

However, the documents anonymously released to the PAC shed new light on Rehab's dealings with Complete Eco Solution.

The company was first registered in December 2009 and signed a contract just weeks later with Rehab. Mr Flannery, Ms Kerins's husband, Sean, and her brother, Mr McCarthy, were equal shareholders. Weeks later, on January 4, Complete Eco Solutions initially billed Rehab Enterprises for €255,552.

The invoice shows how Rehab was billed for importing 528 oak coffins from China, at €400 a piece.

Three days later, Frank Flannery signed a letter promising that Complete Eco Solutions would comply with the charity's procurement rules.

However, a Rehab spokes-man said yesterday that Rehab Enterprises actually paid just €70,000 to Complete Eco Solutions, after deciding to bring in a smaller consignment of coffins. He said the expected market for the coffins did not materialise and the coffin refit project was discontinued. Two years later, a shipping company agreed to take the remaining coffins at knock-down price.

In one invoice, Rehab Enterprises bills Diamond Shipping €10,000 plus VAT for "movement of coffins" for €10,000 plus VAT. The invoice – dated January 30, 2012 – refers to 243 coffins and one pallet of handles. Rehab sent a second invoice to Diamond Shipping in February 2012, referring to the sale of "10,000 units" at €1 each, totalling €10,000 plus VAT.

Sean Kerins stood down as a director of Complete Eco Solutions nine months after the deal with Rehab but kept his one-third shareholding, information that Ms Kerins did not disclose to PAC.

Sources said Complete Eco Solutions also made a loss on the deal, estimated at €30,000.

Sunday Independent

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