Regulator freezes bank account of suicide prevention charity

The Charity Commission has frozen the bank accounts of a suicide prevention and counselling charity after its sister organisation in Ireland was the subject of allegations of financial irregularities.

The regulator said it had opened a statutory inquiry into and frozen the accounts of the London-based charity Console Suicide Prevention after being made aware of media coverage relating to Console Suicide Bereavement Counselling, which is registered as a charity in Ireland.

The commission said the concerns about the Irish charity included allegations of falsifying accounts to obtain funding, significant private benefit, conflicts of interest and financial mismanagement.

The High Court in Ireland last month granted an injunction preventing Paul Kelly, the Irish charity’s former chief executive, from accessing Console’s bank accounts and credit cards amid widespread allegations in the local media about financial irregularities.

A statement from the Charity Commission said the Irish charity was not under its jurisdiction but it had taken action against the UK charity

"Due to the links between the Irish charity, the UK charity and the High Court action that has taken place in Ireland, the commission considers that the impact of the actions taking in place in Ireland affects public trust and confidence in the UK charity," the statement said.

"The recent events and actions also indicate that the assets of the UK charity may be at serious and significant risk of harm and that this requires further examination and action by the commission."

The UK charity had an income of £133,686 and an expenditure of £45,386 in the year to the end of May 2015, although its accounts were qualified by accountants, according to the Charity Commission website.

The regulator said it opened a statutory inquiry and froze the UK charity’s bank account on 4 July.

The commission said its inquiry would examine issues including the relationship between the UK and Irish charities and the financial management of the UK charity, particularly how it applied funds and whether there had been any unauthorised benefits for trustees.

According to records on the Charity Commission’s website, the UK charity’s trustees include Kelly and his wife Patricia.

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