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‘Shameful’: Ex-CRC chief got €473k retirement pay-off – all of it from charitable funds

The Public Accounts Committee has heard fresh revelations about the top-up and pension pay-off scandal at the Central Remedial Clinic with a total of €742,025 paid out in respect of Paul Kiely’s pension and pay-off.

THE PUBLIC ACCOUNTS Committee (PAC) has heard that the former chief executive of the Central Remedial Clinic, Paul Kiely, got a €473,336 pay-off when he retired last year – double the amount that was previously disclosed to the PAC, and all of it from charitable funds.

TDs have been told by Barry O’Brien from the HSE that an investigation by the interim administrator at the clinic, John Cregan, has found that €700,000 was taken from the charitable fund, Friends and Supporters of the CRC, to pay the retirement sum.

O’Brien also told the committee that the HSE “may seek the assistance of An Garda Siochána” over matters that have arisen out of the examination of the CRC’s draft accounts.

It has also been disclosed that the HSE is examining the use of a credit card by CRC Medical Devices Ltd which, the committee heard, was used for €14,000 worth of travel and €3,900 worth of entertainment in 2012, according to ex-CRC CEO Brian Conlan.

Kiely’s retirement money consisted of €200,000 tax-free lump-sum and a €273,336 taxable payment, in total amounting to €473,336.

In addition, €268,689 was paid to Mercers to ensure pension and lump sum benefits would not be less than if he had continued to remain on until November 2016.

This meant a total of €742,025 was paid out in respect of Kiely’s pension and pay-off.

Kiely told the committee in December that he received a lump-sum pay off of €200,000 and would be getting an annual pension of €98,000, but did not disclose the €273,336 taxable payment.

€700k charity payment

To fund the pay-off a total of €700,000 was paid into CRC’s central fund from the its Friend and Supporters charity fund in two tranches, €450,000 and €250,000.

Cregan told the HSE that the money could not have been paid to Kiely if it were not for the “donation” from the Friends and Supporters fund.

imageFormer CRC chief executive Brian Conlan giving evidence to the PAC today

This was on top of €3 million that had been paid from the charity fund as a loan to top-up the CRC pension pot. O’Brien said that officials would be looking to reverse the transactions.

“This is the first I have seen of any of this,” Kiely’s predecessor, Brian Conlan, has told the Committee today, adding: “I was not at any board meeting that signed off on this agreement, not part of any confidentiality agreement that was signed.”

Independent TD Shane Ross (below) has told Conlan he does not believe him, but Conlan, who was on the CRC audit committee, insisted “this is completely new to me” and that he is “as surprised as anybody here today”.

image

The committee has heard the Kiely pay-off was signed off at a special board meeting in February 2013 and that the accounts were signed off in May of last year.

However, the €700,000 was paid in June of 2013. Fine Gael TD Kieran O’Donnell said there are “a lot of coincidences there”.

O’Donnell also commented that it “stretches credibility” that Conlan, as CEO, was not aware of these payments. He said the committee has “no option” but to bring in Kiely for further evidence.

‘Shameful’

Committee chair John McGuinness described the revelations as “shameful” and said that former CRC chairman Jim Nugent and official David Martin should be brought back before the PAC.

Fine Gael deputy John Deasy suggested that other board members should come in as well, because the three of them “may not have given us the full information” and there may be other individuals who “may not be happy about that”.

The committee agreed that others who were at the special board meeting, which sanctioned the Kiely pay-off, should be brought before it.

“I thought the limits of my shock had been reached at the last meeting,” Labour TD Robert Dowds said.

O’Brien has told the committee that a new CEO will be appointed to the CRC in the coming months with the position to be filled in the “shortest possible time” with the Public Appointments Service expected to be advertising the post in “next week to two”.

HSE director general Tony O’Brien is to work with the interim administrator on appointing a new board and how to do that “correctly”.

The CEO St Vincent’s Healthcare Group, Nicholas Jermyn, will appear later today to discuss the issue of executive pay.

The hearings are exploring the issue of top-up payments to senior staff in some health bodies, following revelations last December about salaries of some senior executives being topped-up from charitable or other funds including at the CRC.

- additional reporting from Michelle Hennessy

You can watch proceedings live in the above stream.

Read: Former CRC chief’s retirement package may be more than previously disclosed

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Hugh O'Connell

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