Thursday 22 February 2018

Director of Dublin charity Carline 'misappropriated' €161k of its funds - court hears

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Tim Healy

THE treasurer and accountant of a state-funded charity providing education and support for teenagers has misappropriated up to €161,000 of its funds for his own benefit, it has been claimed in the High Court.

Greg Walsh, of Walsh and Co Accountants, Walkinstown, Dublin, has been a director of Carline Learning Centre, Clondalkin, Dublin, since 2004 and has also been its accountant and treasurer, the court heard.

Eamon Marry BL, for the charity, said investigations so far revealed money of the order of €161,000 from Carline's accounts appeared to have been diverted or misappropriated by Mr Walsh.

Concerns were raised as a result of an outstanding liability of €72,500 to Revenue, he said.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan declined to grant Mr Marry's application for an ex-parte (only one party represented) order freezing Mr Walsh's access to the charity's finances after the judge expressed concerns the allegations had not been formally put in to the accountant before the matter was brought into court.

He granted permission to serve the proceedings at short notice on Mr Walsh and said he wanted documentation from the Revenue to back up his

(Walsh's) claims that payments to the Revenue from 2014-16 were up to date.

Mr Marry told the court he was seeking an order restraining Mr Walsh from dealing with any monies or property belonging to Carline in his possession and that he pay the monies back.

Mr Justice Gilligan said Mr Walsh had written a letter on June 10 explaining the Revenue payments had been accounted and that an error had been made but he was available to assist in every way.  These were serious allegations and the judge wanted to know the urgency of the situation.

In a sworn statement, Carline chairman John McKernan said the charity had been registered as a company with charitiable status since 1997 and has found increased demand for its educational, training and support services for girls and boys between 12 and 18. It was principally State funded with some charitable donations.

Carline relied on Mr Walsh as its treasurer and accountant.  Concerns were raised in June when a cheque raised for Revenue was drawn in favour of Mr Walsh's father, counsel said.

It was later confirmed there was an outstanding liability to Revenue of €72,500.

Mr Marry said Carline was satisfied there were a number of cheques involving substantial sums made out either to Mr Walsh personally, his accountancy firm, his father, a "W Banks" and a company called Besik which had no connection at all with Carline.

Mr Walsh had told the charity cheques were due to be paid to the Revenue but it transpired they were made out to others, counsel said.

Mr Justice Gilligan said the court had to be provided with full information particularly in light of Mr Walsh's explanation that accounts were up to date for the last three years.  He wanted to know what engagement there had been between Carline and Mr Walsh about these matters.

When the judge suggested certain payments could have been Mr Walsh's fees, counsel said "absolutely not".  The judge said he also wanted to know what happened when the charity's monthly statements came in which would show what was happening with cheques.

Mr Marry said he was happy that the matter be put back for a day or two for further details to be provided.

Mr Marry said his client had asked for an explanation and had been supplied with certain documents which were self-generated by Mr Walsh but he had not explained why cheques were in his own name.  Carline came to court because of concerns it would not get a satisfactory explanation, counsel said.

The judge said the difficulty was this was going to be reported in the media and there may be an explanation forthcoming.

This was an important consideration when the court was granting an order in relation to whether or not damages rather than an injunction would be an adequate remedy, he said.

Earlier, the judge also noted that there had been substantial payments in 2014 and 2015 to Revenue but also tax refunds had also been made.

"I cannot understand why there was no letter to Mr Walsh setting out Carline's concerns because this goes back to 2014", the judge said.

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