Sunday 21 January 2018

Crucial papers on pension of CRC boss Paul Kiely 'missing'

Former CRC chairman Hamilton Goulding
Former CRC chairman Hamilton Goulding
Former CRC chief executive Paul Kiely

Crucial internal documents relating to former CRC chief executive Paul Kiely's €742,000 pension deal cannot be found, the Irish Independent has learned.

Missing documents include a pension proposal presentation to the CRC board, and minutes of the CRC remuneration committee, which are urgently being sought by HSE Interim Administrator John Cregan.

It has also emerged that "further engagement" is to take place between Mr Cregan and auditors Ernst & Young, who could have copies of these missing documents.

The news comes as former CRC chairman Hamilton Goulding has called on his embattled former chief executive to hand back the €742,000 pension pay-off, yet insisted "it's not my business" if it happens or not.

The ongoing scandal at the CRC took a new twist last week when it emerged that Mr Kiely got the gold-plated package despite previously only admitting a pension pot of €200,000.

The Public Accounts Committee obtained minutes which showed that the CRC board, led by Mr Goulding -- whose mother Lady Valerie Goulding founded the CRC -- agreed and signed off on Mr Kiely's €742,000 package at a special meeting on March 25 last year.

He said that the decision to pay Mr Kiely the money was in order to "get him out of the way" and save up to €1.4m on salary payments. But Mr Goulding now says that Mr Kiely should return some of the money --

while admitting he cannot influence the decision. "My belief is that it would be a very good gesture for him to do so but it is really a matter for him, I can't pre-empt his decisions.

"If I were in his shoes, at some stage on some level it would be a good thing to do. But that is not my business," he said.

The minutes from last March show that Mr Goulding had "made a presentation outlining the details of a proposed financial settlement which might be offered to Mr Kiely".

The board's acceptance of the deal was "in line with the recommendation of the remuneration sub-committee who had considered the matter on March 11". Mr Goulding also sat on the remuneration committee.

Mr Goulding said that while the payment of €742,000 to an individual was "horrible", he said it was done under the threat of legal action, which he said could have cost €100,000 a day to resolve.

"It does leave a bad taste. The idea of giving someone €700,000 is not just uncomfortable, it is horrible -- because that money could have gone elsewhere. But we can't jump outside the framework of solicitors and the law," he told RTE's 'This Week' programme.

Asked why he felt Mr Kiely gave incomplete information to the Public Accounts Committee last month, Mr Goulding said: "I know the man is quite ill now with the stresses and strains going on.

"These things are incredibly stressful and maybe he got muddled. It seems the numbers were not correct."

He insisted, however, that none of the actions taken by the CRC board were illegal.

"No, I would be absolutely astonished if anything illegal happened. Everything was done correctly," he said.

But Mr Goulding himself has been severely criticised by TDs for failing to come forward sooner -- particularly after Mr Kiely misinformed the committee as to his salary package before Christmas.

Simon Harris, Fine Gael TD for Wicklow and PAC member, strongly criticised Mr Goulding and other former board members at the embattled clinic, accusing them of "sitting on their hands" when they knew the details of the controversial deal.

"It is appalling that the committee was misled and, rather than come forward, he and other board members chose to stay quiet. This only came to light because of the HSE auditor's work," he said.

Mr Harris also criticised Mr Goulding's role in the creation of the pension deal, as he sat on the board of the main CRC company as well as the Friends and Supporters fundraising arm, where the money was drawn from.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said he felt that while a garda inquiry into affairs at the clinic may be necessary, it must not be allowed to get in the way of public accountability through the Oireachtas. "I think first of all, we have to establish what these payments were for, and the PAC is doing its work and the HSE is doing its work in this area.

"I understand there may be some garda investigation into some aspects of these payments," he said.

"People have a right to see that their money is going to the provision of services for which they have donated their money."

PAC chairman John McGuinness indicated that the committee would seek to recall the entire former board of the CRC, to hear more evidence.

He said there were serious unanswered questions to be posed. The committee will now be writing to former board members, who resigned en masse last month. Earlier, the Finance Minister Michael Noonan added his voice to those calling for Mr Kiely to give back the €742,000 payment.

Daniel McConnell Political Correspondent

Irish Independent

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