herald

Saturday 10 December 2016

Accountant agrees to repay €161,000 taken from teenage charity

Accountant Greg Walsh
Accountant Greg Walsh

An accountant who admits misappropriating €161,000 from a charity where he acted as treasurer has agreed to repay the money back over time.

Greg Walsh (67) consented to a judgment being entered against him for the sum taken plus the legal costs of youth education charity, Carline Learning Centre.

The State-funded organisation, which is based in west Dublin, brought a High Court action against him earlier this month after auditors found discrepancies in its accounts.

Cheques

An investigation by the auditors found Mr Walsh had used the charity's cheque book to make payments to his business and two other companies. The cash was supposed to have been used to pay the charity's tax bills and other liabilities.

The court was told yesterday that Mr Walsh had consented to there being a judgment against him for €161,000 plus the charity's legal costs. Barrister Eamon Marray, for Carline, informed Mr Justice Paul Gilligan that an agreement had been reached, but asked for liberty to apply to the court again should there be a difficulty.

It is understood Mr Walsh, a low-profile accountant with past links to Fine Gael, has agreed to transfer various assets to the charity as part of the agreement. However, it is unclear if the money owed will be repaid in full.

The High Court was previously told that when initially challenged about the discrepancies, Mr Walsh claimed there had been a mix-up. He subsequently admitted he had taken the money after his business ran into financial problems.

Mr Walsh pledged his life assurance policy to the charity as a token of his remorse and said his behaviour had brought "shame" and "humiliation" on his family.

His total debts, including the sum owed to Carline, amounts to €924,000. This includes €375,000 owed to clients, €160,000 owed to Bank of Ireland, €16,000 owed to the Revenue Commissioners, €90,000 owed to family members and €12,000 in credit card bills.

In the affidavit, he said his office and home had been visited by gardai and his books and records taken.

He said he had been advised by his solicitor of his right to silence, but would be pleading guilty if criminal charges were brought against him.

He also said he had been made aware by his solicitor there would be a criminal investigation by the Revenue Commissioners.

It is understood the board of the charity is currently liaising with its funders to allay any concerns.

They have been focussed on ensuring the controversy does not threaten the charity's future or lead to any disruption to the educational services it provides to marginalised teenagers.

The charity receives around €500,000-a-year in funding from State bodies.

Investments

Mr Walsh said in his affidavit he got into difficulty in mid-2014. He had promised clients returns on their investments which did not materialise.

This led him to use client funds to repay existing clients and honour financial commitments. He revealed he was sued for €560,000 by two clients last year. The case was settled out of court after Mr Walsh agreed to sell his family home and surrender his interest in another property.

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