Saturday 18 November 2017

'A web of deceit': assets of former Console chief frozen

House of Cards: Console cash paid for Netflix bills

Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

A forensic accountant has uncovered further explosive evidence of the extravagant spending of charity funds by former Console boss Paul Kelly and members of his family.

Weekly household shopping bills, Netflix subscriptions, flights, Airbnb costs, trips to the dentist and the Local Property Tax were among bills totalling €203,000 paid using four company credit cards last year.

The spending was outlined in documents submitted to the High Court by interim Console CEO David Hall.

It was disclosed as lawyers for Console successfully applied to extend orders blocking Mr Kelly and his wife from accessing the charity's accounts.

They also got orders freezing the assets of Mr and Mrs Kelly and a temporary freezing order in relation to their son Tim Kelly, who was also joined as a defendant in the case.

In papers filed with the court, Mr Hall said the case involved "a tactical and considered web of deceit" and "the prolonged abuse of public trust and public monies".

Paul Kelly and (inset) his wife Patricia
Paul Kelly and (inset) his wife Patricia

Read More: Revealed: Contents of Console chief Paul Kelly's secret storage unit

The court heard Mr Kelly, who resigned as chief executive of the HSE-funded suicide bereavement charity almost a fortnight ago, had been admitted to a psychiatric hospital yesterday. However, his wife Patricia, a former director of the charity, was present in court as details of the spending were outlined.

In an affidavit, Mr Hall said forensic accountant Tom Murray had discovered a card in Mr Kelly's name had been used to pay bills totalling €41,151 last year. Items covered included payments for Netflix, Ticketmaster, dry cleaning and dental bills, as well as weekly shopping bills at Tesco and SuperValu.

A card in the name of Patricia Kelly racked up spending of €35,298. This included €3,320 in ATM withdrawals, the payment of a €749 Local Property Tax bill and €1,260 spent on motor repairs.

Their son Tim, who was described in court as "the link" between Console and a similarly-named UK charity, racked up credit card bills totalling €63,752. This included thousands of euro spent at leading London eateries, including the Goring Hotel and Gaucho restaurant, €14,627 spent on flights and Uber taxis, as well as Airbnb bills totalling €629.

A fourth credit card, in the name of a nun who no longer works for the charity and was not involved in any spending, was used to pay for items from Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Newbridge Silverware and Tower Records, as well as motoring costs and trips to the dentist.

That card accounted for €62,664 in spending last year.

In submissions to the court, Martin Hayden, SC for Console, said Mr Hall had lost any remaining confidence in the Kellys after a search of a lock-up revealed numerous documents, chequebooks and keys.

Former Console Chief Executive Paul Kelly's wife Patricia leaving the four Courts. Credit: Steve Humphreys
Former Console Chief Executive Paul Kelly's wife Patricia leaving the four Courts. Credit: Steve Humphreys

Read More: 'We exposed Kelly 26 years ago, I guess some people never change'

Mr Hall had previously been told by a solicitor acting on the instruction of Mrs Kelly that all relevant material had been handed over to him last Saturday. Counsel for Console said Mrs Kelly gave this instruction despite being aware of and being involved in the storage of a large quantity of documents in a facility in Naas, Co Kildare.

Mr Hayden said CCTV footage shown to Mr Hall at the storage facility, following a tip-off, clearly showed Mr and Mrs Kelly attending the premises last week.

When Mr Hall gained access to the unit with the aid of gardaí, he discovered 300 hanging folders for filing cabinets; 30 desk folders; 50 ring-binders; a Dell laptop; 25 chequebooks; a petty cash box; 40 keys; a briefcase; and numerous CDs, DVDs and photographs.

The court was told that as so much material was found, a van rather than a car was required to transport it from the lock-up.

Mr Hall has not yet had time to inspect all of the material due to the sheer volume of what was recovered, but it was clear it related to Console.

"It became instantly evident that the documents and articles in the container were the property of Console," he said in an affidavit. The documents are currently secured by information technology forensic experts, Mr Hall said.

Mr Hall said that since taking over as interim boss of the charity he had found further detail indicating the abuse of public trust and public money.

"Further, it appears that there is a clear indication that they are not willing to cooperate with the court and that they will go to considerable lengths to frustrate the actions of the plaintiff in seeking to have monies returned," he said.

He said staff had informed him the charity had an interest in an eight-bedroom property in Oughterard, Co Galway, yet no documents in relation to this had been made available by Mr and Mrs Kelly.

Mr Hall said he was making further inquiries into properties linked to the charity in Dublin, Cork and Tralee.

"I have reason to believe there are numerous properties around the country," he said.

Meanwhile, the court was told that Mr Kelly's sister Joan McKenna, who is also named as a defendant, is denying any involvement in the charity.

Her name was listed in accounts as being a director of the charity.

But the court heard the only thing that connected her to the governance of Console were the Companies Registration Office records.

Mr Hayden said he understood it was being suggested Ms McKenna's signature had been forged.

Irish Independent

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