Alleged fraud has cost Limerick charity more than €700,000

Former Bóthar chief executive David Moloney.

THE financial impact of alleged fraud along with legal and related charges have cost Limerick based charity, Bóthar, a total of €713,058 over a three year period.

The first set of accounts to be approved by the charity’s directors in almost four years calculated the financial cost of the identified alleged fraud at €365,558 between 2018 and 2020.

Legal and other costs incurred in 2020 amounted to €347,500.

The directors caution that these amounts do not reflect the full extent of what the directors believe to be the cost of the alleged fraud.

The accounts also reveal that in January 2022, Bóthar realised a net €552,280 from the sale of a former office premises in Dublin to prop up the charity’s finances.

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The Board has also disposed of shares to fund the legal and other costs required to enable the charity continue its activities which include helping poor farmers in developing nations through donations of livestock.

Other remedial actions include a reductions in staff, payroll costs, overheads and running costs.

The alleged misappropriation of funds at Bóthar first came to public attention in 2021 through High Court injunction proceedings against former chief executive David Moloney.

Alleged irregularities came to light during the 2019 financial year from an anonymous whistleblower concerning inappropriate travel expenses.

In the High Court, David Moloney, who resigned as chief executive in February 2021, said he and the former chief executive, the late Peter Ireton, misappropriated hundreds of thousands of euro in cash.

Mr Ireton, who was one of the charity’s founders, died in his home in April 2021.

He had denied any impropriety.

Bóthar now has a revamped board with seven resignations recorded since October 2020 and five new appointments in 2022.

The directors state that they have made changes in the organisational staffing and procedures to ensure the highest fiduciary standards and transparency with all stakeholders.

They conceded that ” various matters” have involved substantial costs and have “damaged the reputation of the charity in the eyes of the public at large and damaged trust for loyal supporters and partners”.

The charity recorded a loss of €149,028 in 2020 after its income slumped from €4.6 million to €3.44 million. At the end of June 2020, its total funds amounted to €1.29 million.

In his report, independent auditor, Damian Gleeson of Grant Thornton provided a ‘disclaimer of opinion’ on the financial statements.

“We have not been able to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence to provide a basis for an audit opinion on these financial statements,” he stated.

“Despite full cooperation from the current Board members and the new chief executive, it has not been possible to furnish us with all the information and explanations, which we consider necessary for the purposes of our audit”.

Mr Gleeson added that “there are ongoing investigations into the various activities by the former chief executives over a substantial number of years.

He said that the actions of the former chief executives “remain the subject of both criminal (Garda) investigation and civil litigation” and that the Charity Regulator Authority is also undertaking a separate investigation.

Mr Gleeson also provided a disclaimer of opinion on the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.