Friday 28 October 2016

Console 'splashed out on designer clothes, cars, tickets and trips'

Ex-Console CEO Paul Kelly Picture: Tom Burke
Ex-Console CEO Paul Kelly Picture: Tom Burke

Suicide bereavement organisation Console splashed out on foreign holidays, designer clothes and €2,083 worth of rugby tickets using charity funds.

The lavish spending, which also included thousands on restaurants and cars, has emerged in an investigation of the under-fire charity.

The founder and former CEO Paul Kelly, his wife Patricia and their son Tim benefited by almost €500,000 in salaries and cars between 2012 and 2014.

Console credit cards were used to spend another €500,000 on items including groceries and clothes from world-famous designer brands Ralph Lauren and Hugo Boss, as well as foreign trips.

Mr Kelly's son Tim, who was director of services at Console in the UK, was on a tax-free salary of £600 (€800) a week.

Between them, the three used 11 credit cards, the RTE Investigates team revealed last night.

It comes as the charity regulator John Farrelly is expected to take legal moves to secure the organisation, which continues to provide suicide bereavement counselling while it is under investigation by gardai and the HSE.


It has also been claimed credit cards were used for large, unvouched cash withdrawals, trips to Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and other destinations. The spending also included dental work.

An internal HSE audit found that from 2012 to 2014 Console generated an income of €5m, but during that time its helplines were reduced from six to two.

From 2012 to 2014 Paul Kelly received consultancy payments of €218,586, plus a 2009 Mercedes CLS costing €30,600.

Patricia Kelly received salary payments of €67,149, plus a 2010 Audi Q5 costing €57,000. She had four credit cards.

There were no contracts or board approvals for the payments for Mr Kelly or his wife.

Inconsistent and vague explanations were provided to the internal audit about Patricia Kelly's car.

Between 2012 and 2014, €736,000 was spent on Console's credit cards. The largest expenditure item on these was cash withdrawals of €87,027.

Of these, Paul Kelly withdrew €66,296. There was no documentation to identify how these cash sums were used.

Some €71,460 was spent on credit cards primarily by Paul Kelly on foreign travel to Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Madrid, Barcelona, Rome, Tenerife, Nice, Paris and London. The trips to Australia and the Far East occurred around Christmas in 2012 and into 2013.

A draft copy of the HSE audit seen by RTE Investigates also showed inadequate governance structures during the period under audit.

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