NewsCrime Desk

Console chief’s spending spree laid bare in audit probe files

Crime DeskBy Patrick O'Connell
Paul Kelly
Paul Kelly

Shocking new details of the incredible spending spree which Console CEO Paul Kelly, his wife Patricia and son Tim embarked upon can today be laid bare in the Sunday World.

We can reveal the startling details of how, in the space of three years, globe-trotting Kelly’s charity splashed out €70,000 of its money on five-star-hotel stays in Australia, Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tenerife, Barcelona and Paris.

It happened as the charity was forced to cut its helplines for those contemplating suicide from six to just two.

Details contained in a confidential HSE internal audit and seen by the Sunday World reveal exactly how and where tens of thousands of euro of the charity’s cash was blown on hotels, restaurants, duty free shops, liquor stores and designer clothes outlets.

Company credit cards used by Kelly – including one bearing the name of innocent nun Sr Margaret Joyce, who had no knowledge a card in her name was being used by Kelly – were used to pay for top-end junkets to Singapore Zoo, Hong Kong’s cable car and the Maritime Museum in Australia.

Other items paid for by Kelly using the charity credit cards include groceries, designer clothing, alcohol, dental treatment and a €6.99 monthly Netflix subscription.

On one occasion Paul Kelly’s charity credit card was used to pay an €80 speeding fine issued on January 23rd 2012. Questioned by auditors regarding the payment, He later claimed it had been incurred while “attending a critical incident of suicide”.

The auditors noted there was no documentation available to the Internal Audit to support the CEO’s assertion. The auditors also noted that breaking the speed limit increases the risk of injury or death to a driver and innocent third parties.

It said a payment of a motoring fine is a payment in relation to a person breaking the law is not an appropriate use of public funds and charitable donations. It recommended Console Management should ensure that motoring fines of any nature are never paid by Console.

The full scale of Kelly’s betrayal of the charity which he founded in 2002 is laid bare in the ‘confidential’ HSE Internal Audit of the organisation seen by this newspaper.

The audit discovered:

Paul and Patricia received untaxed payments of €218,586 and €67,149 respectively from the charity’s accounts between 2012 and 2014, while son Tim received payments of €118,344 for his role with Console UK during the same period;

The charity splashed out on finance leases for a €30,000 3-litre Mercedes Benz in 2009 – which staff told the audit team was primarily used by Paul Kelly – and another lease in 2010 for a €57,000 2-litre Audi Q5, driven by Patricia;

Patricia Kelly 

Paul, Patricia Tim used the charity’s credit cards to clock up spending of €252,255, €134,924 and €77,598 respectively over the same three-year period; and

How, over the same period, Paul and Patricia made a total of 428 cash advance withdrawals using the cards, with the average value of cash withdrawn amounting to €535 per week, or €83,000 in total.

The audit discovered Kelly’s credit card paid to blaze a trail across three continents and 12 countries over the three-year period, with credit card receipts revealing the extent of his spending.

In September of 2012, Kelly visited Australia, Singapore, New Zealand and Hong Kong, before a trip to Perth the following December.

In advance of his visits to Australia, Singapore, New Zealand and Hong Kong, he topped up his Visa by €1,000, before going on to make 52 cash withdrawals during the trip, ranging from €13 to €486.

During the trip he made four purchases at the Duty Free in Dubai, four purchases at Gatwick Duty Free, spent €47 at Dublin’s Airport Loop outlet, spent €57 at a liquor store in Australia and purchased concert and theatre tickets on three occasions.

He also clocked up visits to Singapore Zoo, the Art Science Museum, the Cable Car Hong Kong, the Maritime Museum and the Imperial War Museum, all of which were paid for with his company cards.

During the visits, he clocked up bills of €590 at the five-star Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore, €1,402 at the five-star Blue Sydney Taj Hotel at Wooloomooloo and €704 at the Hotel Icon in Kowloon, Japan.

Questioned by auditors over the trip, during which he was accompanied by son Tim, Kelly said all expenditure was for “Console purposes”.

However, the auditors expressed the opinion that the spending of €71,000 over three years, primarily by the CEO, was “excessive”, while the lack of documentation to support the use of extensive cash advances while abroad was “a matter for concern”.

In the cases of other trips to Australia, Dubai, Barcelona, Paris, Brussels and Tenerife, the charity provided no details concerning who travelled or the reasons for them.

Another area examined by auditors was a sum of €9,118 spent on dining, which was identified on credit cards held by Kelly’s son Tim in London in 2013 and 2014.

Credit card receipts identified 406 instances in which charity cards were used to pay for meals. Spending on dining by Kelly and his wife was also put under the microscope by auditors.

In one restaurant alone, Zest Café in Clane, Co. Kildare, the pair dined out 48 times, racking up a bill of €3,942. During the same period a total of €542 was spent at Eddie Rockets.

The internal audit identified at least 58 instances where clothing totalling €8,743 was bought on Console Visa Cards.

Shops visited included Abercrombie and Fitch, Bershka, Hugo Boss, Ralph Lauren, River Island, Moss Bros and United Colours of Benetton.

Tim Kelly’s credit cards alone recorded spending of €3,099 on clothing purchased at  Hawes and Curtis, Moss Bros, Hugo Boss Kildare, the Savoy Taylor Outlet and Ralph Lauren Kildare.

Justifyings ome of the designer clothing purchased, Console identified the items purchased as “clothing for poor family”. A ballroom gown was also purchased from Coast at a price of €232.

The Kelly family’s extravagance with the charity’s cards did not stop there. Dental bills totalling €1,340 was spent by Paul Kelly on credit cards held in the name of a former employee.

Another €560 was charged at a later date. Another €2,253 of pharmacy purchases were charged to cards held by Paul and Patricia Kelly.  Tickets worth €2,083 for the 2015 Rugby World Cup were put on Patricia Kelly’s credit cards.

And the family also recorded spending of an incredible €20,014 on groceries over the same three-year period in supermarkets such as Tesco, Dunnes, Superquinn and SuperValu.

Investigations have been launched by the HSE, charity watchdogs and the audit has been passed on to the Garda Fraud Squad.

The total figure the Kellys charged in salaries and expenses in the three-year period from 2012 to 2014 amounted to almost €1million. The charity received €2m in taxpayer funding from the HSE in the same years and had a total income of €5m.