The FAI's chief operating officer, Rea Walshe, was paid €2,500 by her former boss John Delaney for personal legal services in breach of Law Society guidelines.
Delaney, the FAI's former chief executive, enlisted Walshe to assist with defamation cases he was taking against several media organisations more than three years ago.
However, Walshe's actions are in breach of Law Society of Ireland rules and contrary to proper corporate governance practice.
At the time she assisted Delaney, Walshe was the FAI's corporate affairs and licensing director. She is a qualified solicitor, registered with the Law Society, but according to its regulatory guide, in-house solicitors must set up a solicitor firm and provide professional indemnity insurance if they wish to provide legal services to a party other than their employer. The Sunday Independent understands Walshe did not have such insurance.
As an FAI employee, Walshe is permitted to act as a solicitor only on matters relating to company business and is not indemnified for other legal work, even to offer free advice.
Delaney became embroiled in controversy in March 2019 following revelations around a bridging loan of €100,000 that he made to the FAI which was not properly recorded in the association's accounts.
In the wake of further revelations last year, several inquiries - independent and internal - were launched. Last Thursday, the FAI referred a report from Mazars to gardai and the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE).
This is the second report on the association to be referred to gardai and the ODCE, following Sport Ireland's decision to forward the Kosi report that it commissioned.
The association is the subject of an ODCE inquiry.
Delaney took the defamation cases against several media outlets after the Rio Olympics in 2016, following the arrest in Brazil of Pat Hickey, then Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) president. Delaney, as an OCI vice-president, became embroiled in the controversy and took exception to some of the media coverage. He also engaged a firm of solicitors to represent him.
Although it is not clear what the full nature of the assistance provided by Walshe to her then boss was, she was involved in sending and receiving correspondence on Delaney's behalf in at least one personal defamation case. Delaney made a payment to her of €2,500 in January of last year. The Sunday Independent understands that the payment by Delaney to Walshe is referenced in the Mazars report.
In February 2019, Walshe was promoted to of chief operating officer, and was praised for implementing new governance guidelines from the Department of Sport at the FAI. A month after her promotion, Walshe was named as interim CEO in the wake of the revelations about Delaney.
Also following these revelations, it is understood that Walshe informed some board members - including then president Donal Conway - of the payment she had received but no further action was taken.
Other senior figures within the FAI also later became aware of the payment, and wanted it dealt with but did not receive backing internally to pursue it.
Yesterday, the FAI declined to comment on the payment when contacted. Walshe and Delaney did not respond when contacted yesterday.
Last week, the Sunday Independent reported that Walshe had provided legal advice to the then honorary secretary, Michael Cody, on a property matter in 2018. She did not receive a fee.
Board members discussed this matter last week but were said to be satisfied that she had declared the matter previously.