Former Bóthar chief admits taking hundreds of thousands from charity

David Moloney says he shared money for nuns in Africa with two founding members

Former Bóthar chief executive David Moloney. The allegations against him include that the charity  funded a €10,000 hay shed on a farm he owns. File image: Press 22

Former Bóthar chief executive David Moloney. The allegations against him include that the charity funded a €10,000 hay shed on a farm he owns. File image: Press 22


The former chief executive of Bóthar has admitted misappropriating funds from the Limerick charity and has said he shared tens of thousands of euro in cash with two founding members of the organisation.

David Moloney, who retired as chief executive in February after eight years in the position, said he and the former chief executive, the late Peter Ireton, misappropriated hundreds of thousands of euro in cash that the charity was led to believe went to nuns who work with the poor in Tanzania.

Mr Ireton, one of the founders of Bóthar, died in his home last week. On the same day Mr Moloney, who up to then had been denying any wrongdoing, admitted that he had been taking money from the charity known for its work with poor families in rural Africa and elsewhere.

Frank Beatty SC, for Bóthar, said Mr Moloney has also admitted that he “concocted” payments from Bóthar to a company in England in association with Billy Kelly, for the benefit of both men.

Limerick charity

Mr Kelly is another founder of the Limerick charity. He moved to England in 2003 and set up a charity there, Msaada, which was focused on helping people in Rwanda.

Mr Moloney has now admitted that he got £36,000 from money that nominally went to the English company and said Mr Kelly received £40,000, the Bóthar chairman, Harry Lawlor, told the court in an affidavit.

The court was told the latest assessment of the total amount that has been misappropriated from Bóthar is €769,000, up from the €465,000 the court was told about two weeks ago. Investigations are ongoing.

During Moloney’s eight years in charge. and during the period before that, when Mr Ireton held the position, cash bonuses were paid to some staff at Christmas. These payments occurred without the knowledge or consent of the board of Bóthar, the High Court was told. Bogus expenditure on charitable causes were used to justify the cash withdrawals that went to the staff, the court heard.

Donations to Bóthar were paid “to fictional projects that were fabricated by Mr Moloney, and others” so that cash could be paid to the staff, Mr Lawlor told the court. The court was told of €19,201 in November 2018, and €15,610, in 2019, which were nominally withdrawals to fund projects in Albania and Kosovo, but instead went to staff in cash.

Mr Moloney has said he wants to apologise to the charity and to make restitution, but the charity still has concerns, Mr Beatty told Mr Justice Senan Allen.

The former chief executive has not disclosed to the charity what he has done with the money, he said.

“Given the enormous sums of money that Mr Moloney withdrew, it is simply inconceivable that he does not retain a great deal of cash at this time,” he said.

Spent the money

However, the court heard that Mr Moloney’s position is that he spent the money on his lifestyle.

The allegations against Mr Moloney, of Clino, Newport, Co Tipperary, include that Bóthar funded a €10,000 hay shed on a farm he owns. He is now living on a social welfare disability allowance and has to pay a mortgage and car loans. He and his wife have two young children.

He wants to use money that is his pension fund to pay restitution, but understands that his wife has an interest in what happens to his assets, including the family home that is in his sole name, the court was told.

The court heard Mr Moloney is asserting his right to pension funds from his work at Bóthar that could be used to repay the allegedly misappropriated funds, and Mr Beatty said the two sides were very much in dispute over the pension money.

Mr Justice Allen directed that the freezing order against Mr Moloney’s assets be increased to €769,178, and that he swear a statement as to what Bóthar money was taken and his current assets by May 4th. He is also ordered to identify any third parties involved.

The judge said the order did not apply to assets held by Mrs Moloney in her own name.

He adjourned the case to June 2nd for mention.