Friday 15 February 2019

Boss of company accused of misappropriating €3.8m charity donations 'too ill' to travel to Ireland, court hears

Businessman Peter Conlon. Photo: Fergal Phillips/Sunday Times
Businessman Peter Conlon. Photo: Fergal Phillips/Sunday Times

Tim Healy

The boss of a charities fundraising platform business at the centre of alleged misappropriation of €3.8m in donations is in France and too ill to travel to Dublin, the High Court heard.

Pembroke Dynamic's Peter Conlon (64) is however willing to meet the liquidators of the firm in France to see if the court proceedings can be resolved.

Last year, the court granted liquidator Myles Kirby an injunction freezing Mr Conlon's assets, including his bank accounts, below a value of €3.8m. 

Those orders remain in place.

Following his investigation into the firm's affairs, Mr Kirby is also seeking various orders against Mr Conlon, including an order that he be made personally liable for the company's debts.

It is claimed that Mr Conlon, with an address at St Mary’s Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin, returned to Ireland in December following his release from prison in Switzerland, where he was convicted of embezzlement.

The liquidator was unable to proceed with the application late last month because he did not know Mr Conlon's exact whereabouts, if he was aware of the proceedings, or if he had been served with the documents in the case. 

On Wednesday, Gerard Meehan Bl, for the liquidator, told Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds that contact had been established with Mr Conlon since the matter had last been before the court.

The Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, which is also probing Pembroke Dynamic's affairs, had furnished Mr Kirby with Mr Conlon's contact details, counsel said.

Counsel said a "third party" in an e-mail had informed Mr Kirby's lawyers that Mr Conlon is currently in France, but was "too ill to return to Dublin" for Wednesday's hearing.

The email also stated his illness had been certified by a doctor in Ireland, and that proof of his condition could be provided to the court if required.

Counsel said the email also stated that, subject to his health, Mr Conlon was prepared to meet with Mr Kirby in France later this month to see if matters between the parties could be resolved without any further costs being incurred. 

Counsel said that Mr Conlon's offer to meet his client has neither been agreed nor rejected by Mr Kirby and was considering the offer. 

Ms Justice Reynolds, who deemed that Mr Conlon has been served with the relevant documents in the case, agreed to the adjourn the matter for three weeks.

The Judge said that on the next date evidence concerning Mr Conlon's health should be put before the court. 

In January 2018 Mr Kirby was appointed as liquidator of Pembroke Dynamic over a €400,000 debt owed to Revenue.

Pembroke, which previously traded as Ammado Internet Services, was an online donation platform through which people could give money to various charities - with the company taking five per cent.

Mr Kirby sought freezing orders after he commenced an investigation into the firm's affairs.

He claims various charities have not received some €3.8m donated to them via the platform.

Mr Kirby claims Mr Conlon is "guilty of very serious misconduct" as company funds were used for personal expenditure.

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