Revenue officials are to begin an emergency examination of suicide prevention charity Console’s accounts within days, the Irish Examiner has learned.
The Office of the Revenue Commissioners is understood to have written to Console around July 6 to demand the right to trawl through all financial records since 2009 amid growing concern at the scale of “irregularities” at the charity.
In two separate letters to Console, which is engulfed in a scandal due to revelations that former chief executive Paul Kelly was misspending funds on cars, foreign holidays, designer clothes, and rugby match tickets, Revenue officials said they want full access to all files over the past seven years.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner on July 5, interim Console chief executive David Hall said at least 20 suicide prevention and bereavement counsellors have not been paid for “a number of months” and that some services across the country have been left unfunded.
Meanwhile, there are concerns that the former heads of Console could move further assets beyond the control of the charity, the High Court has been told.
Any remaining confidence in Mr Kelly and his wife, Patricia, has been lost after a search of a lock-up revealed 380 folders, a laptop, 25 chequebooks, a petty cash box, 40 keys, and a briefcase, the court heard.
As a result, Mr Hall was granted extensions to injunctions obtained last week against the Kellys and their son Tim, freezing their access to the charity’s accounts.
The orders cover any companies, trusts, or foundations the Kellys were involved with that in any way connected to Console, and the transfer of any assets by all three Kellys since January 2012.
The court heard the case involved a “tactical and considered web of deceit” and each piece of new information that came to light provides “further detail of a prolonged abuse of public trust and public monies”.
Mr Kelly has been admitted to a psychiatric facility and his solicitor, James McGuill, was given a week to take instructions and reply to the proceedings.
Patricia Kelly appeared in court yesterday. Mr Justice Paul Gilligan ordered that their son, Tim Kelly, be joined as a fourth defendant in the action.
The third defendant, Paul Kelly’s sister, Joan McKenna, who denies she had any involvement in running Console, did not oppose the continuation of injunctions against her.
Martin Hayden SC opposed an application to have injunctions discharged against Ms McKenna on the basis that a number of Companies Office documents were signed in her name.
The court heard that Ms McKenna claims these were forgeries.
In an affidavit, Mr Hall said Tim Kelly appears to be the link between the Irish Console and its UK counterpart, which the court heard last week was involved in transactions worth thousands of pounds for services supplied by the Irish body.
The court heard Tim Kelly’s total credit card spending for 2015, including for flights, restaurants, taxis, accommodation, and motor insurance, came to €63,752.
Paul Kelly’s credit card spending for that year amounted to €41,151, while Patricia Kelly’s was €35,298.
A ‘Sister Margaret Joyce’ was listed as having total credit card spending for 2015 at €62,664.
Mr Hall said investigations revealed there seemed to be €1,500 in a PayPal account for donations from the public to Console. He sought an order from the court that he be provided with login details, access codes, or passwords. The judge granted the order.
Mr Hall said Patricia Kelly acted in contravention of last week’s court order and acted in bad faith because she appeared to have given instructions to solicitors, who acted for her before Mr McGuill took over, saying the only records in existence were those handed over to Mr Hall last Saturday.
The Daughters of Charity order, whose member Sister Margaret Joyce worked at Console in 2008 and 2009, issued the following statement:
"We are shocked to learn in recent days that a credit card issued to a member of the Daughters of Charity by Console, for the purposes of the furtherance of her duties while she was seconded there in 2008-2009, was allegedly maintained in her name following her departure from the organisation in 2009 - and allegedly used by other persons since that time.
"The sister involved had no knowledge of this whatsoever. As these matters are the subject of investigation we will not be making further comment at this time.”