Revenue to probe seven years of Console accounts

Revenue officials are to probe seven years of records at the accounts of suicide bereavement charity Console, the Irish Examiner has learned.
Revenue to probe seven years of Console accounts

The office of the Revenue Commissioners is understood to have written to the organisation in the last 24 hours to demand the right to trawl through all financial records since 2009, amid growing concern at the scale of “irregularities” at the charity.

The probe will include a review of the charity’s financial books from 2009 to 2014 next Wednesday, and a separate audit of all records from 2012 to 2015, which will commence on Thursday, July 21.

The move has been caused by the revelations contained in the still unpublished HSE internal audit into the charity.

However, the development has raised the increasing possibility of further details surrounding what happened emerging — and the prospect of further action by State bodies.

Interim Console chief executive David Hall said he will be putting two cars seized from the Kellys — including a 2010 Audi Q5 — up for auction next week in a bid to retrieve funds.

However, asked if ultimately some services and staff will remain out of pocket and if frontline services may have to be split from Console to protect them from the fallout, he said: “We’re coming to the stage where we have to address the elephant in the room.”

The latest revelations surrounding the charity came as it emerged the HSE gave the group more than €321,000 in funding this year — despite its own audit team and Government ministers being aware of serious financial irregularities at the charity since summer 2015.

Junior minister with responsibility for mental health Helen McEntee admitted the situation yesterday afternoon, contradicting Department of Health claims last week that no taxpayers money has been handed over to the group this year.

Meanwhile, speaking in the Seanad during a bill debate on greater powers for the Charities Regulator, Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald noted pointedly that “charities are subject to scrutiny and enforcement by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement” and garda investigations if “criminal activity such as fraud arises”.

In a further development, Fianna Fáil TD and Dáil Public Accounts Committee chair Seán Fleming told RTÉ Radio’s Drivetime programme the committee may ask former health ministers, including Mary Harney and James Reilly, to attend upcoming public hearings on how the Console crisis went unnoticed for so long.

The PAC will meet with the HSE at an emergency meeting next Friday.

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