Former Console boss Paul Kelly and his wife and son spent almost €500,000 on designer clothes, foreign trips, groceries, and other expenses between 2012 and 2014, an RTÉ investigation has claimed.
The revelations are contained in extracts of a draft copy of the HSE audit into the finances and governance of the charity seen by the RTÉ Investigations Unit.
A Prime Time report last night claimed the audit details how Mr Kelly, his wife Patricia, and their son Tim, benefited by almost €500,000 in salaries and cars between 2012 and 2014.
A further €500,000 approximately was spent during that time on Console credit cards for a range of items including groceries, designer clothes, and foreign trips.
Between them Paul, Patricia, and Tim Kelly used 11 credit cards over the three-year period, the Prime Time report claimed.
Among the items the cards were reportedly used for included large unvouched cash withdrawals, trips to Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and other destinations, designer clothing from outlets such as Ralph Lauren and Hugo Boss, dining out, Rugby World Cup tickets, and dental work.
The RTÉ Investigates report claimed that, between 2012 and 2014, €736,000 was spent on Console’s credit cards. During that time, there were 20 credit cards held by the charity.
Paul, Patricia, and Tim Kelly held 11 of these 20 credit cards.
Paul Kelly held two cards in his own name and two cards in the name of employee Y, who had left the organisation over six years previously. Patricia Kelly held four cards and Tim Kelly held three cards.
RTÉ Investigates said the expenditure on these 11 cards was €464,777, representing 63% of total credit card expenditure.
The report claimed the largest expenditure item on the credit cards was cash withdrawals of €87,027. Of these, Paul Kelly withdrew €66,296. RTÉ Investigates claimed there was no documentation to identify how these cash sums were used.
Between 2012 and 2014, the CEO and his wife made a total of 428 cash withdrawals totalling €83,484.
RTÉ Investigates also claimed that Paul Kelly used two credit cards assigned to a former employee who had left the organisation at least six years previously.
The report said expenditure of €128,169 was incurred on these credit cards between 2012 and 2014, including cash withdrawals of €28,785.
The report claimed that inconsistent, vague, and inaccurate information was provided to the HSE audit about the identity of the person named as the credit card holder.
Almost €71,500 was spent on credit cards on foreign travel to Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Madrid, Barcelona, Rome, Tenerife, Nice, Paris, and London.
Large and frequent cash withdrawals by credit card were made on these trips, the RTÉ report claimed.
The revelations come a week after RTÉ Investigates revealed evidence of serious concerns around the handling of Console’s finances.
The allegations included that Console altered accounts on several occasions to omit the reference to directors’ pay and other benefits, and that it claimed as board members people who did not hold those positions in documents submitted to funders.
Console founder and CEO Paul Kelly resigned in the wake of the programme. His wife Patricia and his sister Joan McKenna also resigned as directors of the charity.
In his statement to RTÉ at that time, Mr Kelly said “any assertion of intentional wrongdoing on the part of Console, the CEO and/or directors... is fully denied”.
Attempts to contact Mr Kelly last night for comment were unsuccessful.
Console has appointed forensic accountant Tom Murray and chief executive of the Irish Mortgage Holders Organisation David Hall to conduct an investigation into the alleged financial irregularities at the suicide bereavement charity.
In a series of tweets issued last night, Mr Hall said that they had met the charities regulator, John Farrelly, yesterday.
“Tom Murray and I, while carrying out a review of Console, met the charity regulator today. We are confident he will take steps to protect Console. It is imperative for the clients and staff of Console that this matter is dealt with properly I am happy the regulator will do this,” he said.
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