Wednesday 22 November 2017

Liquidator urged to chase Console over €600k spend

Regulator calls for action to recover suicide charity's assets

'Console founder Paul Kelly is bound by High Court freezing orders on several bank accounts and properties' (stock photo)
'Console founder Paul Kelly is bound by High Court freezing orders on several bank accounts and properties' (stock photo)

Maeve Sheehan and Wayne O'Connor

The Charities Regulator has urged the liquidator of scandal-hit Console to take "all action required" to pursue the suicide bereavement organisation's outstanding assets, a year after its spectacular collapse.

The regulator's request follows a meeting with the liquidator, Tom Murray, who is expected to complete his wind-up of the beleaguered charity soon.

However, more than €600,000 of spending has yet to be properly accounted for, according to a source.

It is understood that the liquidator met with the Charities Regulator to discuss the issue of the outstanding funds due to Console.

In a statement, the regulator said: "We have expressed our position that all action required should be taken to ensure that any charitable assets are identified and used for the charitable purpose they were donated for."

The Charities Regulator declined to comment further because it was "mindful" of an investigation by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, which is looking into alleged breaches of company law at the charity.

Console founder Paul Kelly is bound by High Court freezing orders on several bank accounts and properties.

The legal proceedings also allow provision for the liquidator to sue the Kellys for the return of any assets that are believed to belong to the charity.

The injunctions were sought by David Hall soon after he was appointed interim director of Console last year.

The liquidator is close to completing his report on the charity's assets, and his findings will be presented to the High Court in due course.

They are understood to mirror the findings of earlier investigations into Console that found a €660,000 spend over four years on credit cards controlled by Paul Kelly, his wife Patricia and son Tim.

Tickets, Netflix, groceries, designer clothes and flights were among the purchases billed to the suicide charity's cards.

An internal Health Service Executive audit found that Console credit cards used by Paul Kelly, his wife and son racked up spending of €464,000 between 2012 and 2014.

Mr Hall, who was appointed interim director of Console, told the High Court that a further €200,000 was spent in 2015 on credit cards controlled by the Kellys.

The transactions included cash withdrawals, meals at expensive restaurants, flights and spending at clothes shops and boutiques.

At one point, it was suspected that a horse bought for Paul Kelly's daughter was purchased with Console funds. However, Mr Kelly later told the High Court that he transferred €37,500 from one of his pension policies to his wife to buy a horse, Ecapitola, which was stolen from its stables a week after the Console scandal broke last year.

The High Court also heard that Mr Kelly and his wife are living on welfare payments of €300 a week.

Mr Kelly declined to comment to the Sunday Independent last week, and did not respond to subsequent efforts to contact him.

Sunday Independent

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