Charities Regulator reported Kildare-based Console to Gardai

Acted following concerns raised in HSE audit

Conor McHugh

Reporter:

Conor McHugh

Email:

conor@leinsterleader.ie

Charities Regulator reported Console to Gardai

An audit of spending by former Console CEO Paul Kelly prompted the Charities Regulator to get involved.

The office of the Charities Regulator has released details of its involvement in the Console charity saga.

The former Celbridge-based suicide bereavement charity closed last summer following revelations of alleged expenses claimed by its CEO Paul Kelly.

And in its annual report the Charities Regulator outlines the significant actions it took in response to the controversy - explaining that they asked the HSE for a copy of its internal audit into Console and once they had seen this, reported the matter to the Gardai.

The report explains that Console had held a valid charitable tax exemption issued by the Revenue Commissioners and therefore was automatically registered as a charity.

“On foot of concerns received in respect of Console Suicide Bereavement Counselling charity, on June 23, 2016 the Charities Regulator sought a copy of the HSE internal audit report.

“On receipt of the document and following examination by the Charity Regulator’s Compliance Unit, the matter was referred to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement and An Garda Siochana.”

At the same time, the Charities Regulator wrote to the charity trustees requiring a meeting and seeking written assurances and undertakings from all the charity trustees that the property of the charity was secure; that they would investigate the issues raised by media reports and provide a report to the Charities Regulator and that they would consent to the Charities Regulator appointing new trustees to the charity, if required.

“On June 30, 2016, under section 25 of the Charities Act 1961, the Charities Regulator authorised the charity to issue proceedings in the High Court against named defendants and to apply for various orders including injunctions to protect the charity.”

On the same day, the board of the Charities Regulator proposed to appoint five new trustees to the charity.

Throughout this period, the report explains, the Charities Regulator worked with the interim CEO (David Hall of the Irish Mortgage Holders Association and Lifeline Ambulances CEO), the HSE and Pieta House to ensure that the charitable activities and services of Console continued.

“In July 2016 the High Court appointed a liquidator and ordered that the company be wound up,” the report recounts.

In the same month, the Revenue Commissioners revoked the charitable tax status of the charity, and as a result, the charity was no longer deemed to be registered on the Register of Charities.