GARDAI could become involved in the CRC scandal as the HSE seeks legal advice after €742,000 of public donations were used for gold-plated pensions.
The HSE has said it has significant concerns about whether the former board of the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC) adhered to company law and other legislative provisions when it authorised the payment of a €740,000 retirement package for its former chief executive, Paul Kiely, last year.
The health authority, which appointed an interim administrator to run the CRC after the board resigned last month, confirmed it had taken legal advice from senior counsel.
It is expected to ask gardai to carry out an investigation into payments made to CRC pension funds and said it would not rule out looking for the return of the money, if it is deemed necessary when audit is complete.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said last night he was appalled by yesterday's revelations at the Dail Public Accounts Committee (PAC) about the retirement package provided by the CRC to Mr Kiely.
HSE human resources director Barry O'Brien agreed it "may be necessary" to involve gardai.
PAC chairman, John McGuinness, said there may be a role for gardai with the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement also called in.
The calls came after it emerged €742,000 had been siphoned off from the fundraising arm of the charity to pay a retirement lump sum to Mr Kiely. The former CEO Kiely had previously only admitted to a tax-free lump sum of €200,000 after leaving his post. However, it has now been revealed he also received a secret golden handshake of more than €500,000.
HEALTH CHIEFS MAY NOW ATTEMPT TO CLAW THE DONATIONS BACK.
Last night Mr Kenny said: "I think the revelations are appalling and indicative of a time in Irish politics long gone."
The committee was told the €742,000 retirement package could not have been paid without money coming from the Friends and Supporters of the CRC – the fundraising arm of the group.
Mr Kiely was then listed as secretary of both companies.
Should a complaint be sent to the gardai, it is likely that a senior officer will be asked to look into the matter. Any garda probe is likely to be a lengthy one, as it would involved a detailed examination of the HSE audit of CRC accounts.
HSE chief Tony O'Brien has written to the PAC about what he calls "significant issues" over the package approved for Mr Kiely which seemed to be "at variance" from the understanding the committee may have previously gained.
Kieran O'Donnell, Fine Gael TD, described the HSE's report as "pure dynamite" and asked for Mr Kiely to be recalled to answer for it.
TD Shane Ross said the revelations were "utterly horrifying". Barry O'Brien said the CRC would attempt to recover some of the money paid to Mr Kiely as part of his retirement if it was not found to be "reasonable and proper."
A garda spokesperson last night that no complaint has been received as yet.