Gardaí to examine documents, computers from Bóthar co-founder’s UK office

Transactions between two charities form part of inquiry into the misappropriation of funds

Documents, computers, and other material from the office in England of one of the founders of the Limerick-based charity, Bóthar, are to be examined by the gardaí, The Irish Times has learned.

Billy Kelly, a former journalist with the Limerick Leader, set up an English charity, Msaada, after he moved to England around 2003.

Financial transactions between Msaada and Bother form part of an ongoing investigation by the serious economic crime unit of An Garda Síochána into the misappropriation of funds at Bóthar.

Mr Kelly ran Msaada from his home in Gillingham with the charity being focused on delivering farming livestock and other assistance to poor families in Rwanda.

It and Bóthar ran joint operations focused on Africa, with substantial payments going between the two charities.

It is understood the police in England took possession of the contents of the office from which Kelly ran his Msaada operation, to assist the Garda investigation. The English police has not opened an investigation into Msaada.

The material seized is understood to include notebooks, banking details, computers, phones, and valuables.

The gardaí have also seized material from the home of the former Bóthar chief executive, David Moloney, in Clino, Newport, Co Tipperary and another property associated with him.

The High Court heard last week that Mr Moloney has admitted to stealing money from the charity.

He said that one of the ways in which he took money was by way of bogus transactions with a company in England associated with Msaada.

The High Court was told that Mr Moloney has said he “concocted” bogus transactions with the English company and then split the proceeds, with Mr Moloney receiving £36,000, and Mr Kelly receiving £40,000.

Mr Kelly is not represented in court and has not responded to calls and emails from The Irish Times.

The UK Charities Commission said it is looking into reports about the affairs of Msaada, which closed late last year.

Mr Moloney has admitted he stole substantial sums over the years from Bóthar, and said that he shared some of the money with Mr Kelly as well as with another founder of Bóthar, Peter Ireton, who died tragically in his home two weeks ago. It is understood Mr Moloney has not as yet been interviewed by the gardaí.

On Tuesday of last week Mr Justice Senan Allen said Mr Moloney had until Tuesday, May 4th, at 5pm, to submit a sworn statement outlining what money he had taken, what had happened to it, and any third parties that were involved.

As part of his preparation for filing the statement, Mr Moloney had a supervised visit to the Bóthar offices in Limerick late last week.

Mr Moloney has admitted to misappropriating substantial sums from the Irish charity but says he has spent the money. However the charity does not accept this.

“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,” Frank Beatty SC, for Bother, told the court last week.

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent