Ex-charity boss has assets frozen amid claims he misappropriated €465,000 in donations
9th April 2021
The former chief executive of a well-known international aid charity has had his assets frozen by the High Court amid allegations he misappropriated at least €465,000 in donations.
Bóthar has alleged the money was taken by ex-CEO David Moloney for his own personal use and for the use of an associate.
The sum is alleged to have included almost €200,000 which Mr Moloney claimed to have given to an order of nuns.
The Limerick-based charity, which provides farm animals to poverty-stricken families in developing countries, secured a temporary High Court injunction freezing the assets of Mr Moloney on Thursday.
Ms Justice Nuala Butler also ordered that Mr Moloney not reduce his assets below a value of €465,000.
The court heard he had resigned as chief executive in February.
The organisation, which receives over €5m in donations annually, has been the subject of a statutory investigation by the Charities Regulator since last October.
Mr Moloney did not respond to a request for comment from the Irish Independent after Bóthar filed proceedings against him last Friday.
In a statement, the charity said it had come to its attention “serious financial irregularities may have occurred at the organisation”.
It said these matters were being investigated by its board and relevant statutory bodies.
The court heard Mr Moloney, of Clino, Newport, Co Tipperary, denies all allegations of wrongdoing and has protested his innocence.
The charity claims an on-going investigation into his conduct has revealed that he is “guilty of an egregious breach of trust and an appalling dereliction of his duty to Bóthar and the beneficiaries of its charitable objects”.
Frank Beatty SC for Bóthar said his client’s investigations had shown at least €465,000 of monies donated to the charity has been misappropriated by Mr Moloney, but the figure could be higher.
Mr Moloney had worked with Bóthar since 1995 and was its chief executive for eight years.
Mr Beatty said arising out of its investigation it is alleged that between 2013 and 2019 Mr Moloney withdrew €192,000 of money donated to Bóthar and said it was paid to a mission run by the Congregation of Mary Immaculate Sisters in Tanzania.
The barrister said Bóthar had spoken with the sister in charge of that mission, who said the order never received any money from either Mr Moloney or the charity.
Mr Beatty said in order to conceal his wrongdoing, Mr Moloney contrived requests from the mission and forged receipts, purporting to vouch payment of the funds.
The barrister said Mr Moloney arranged for Bóthar to make three payments totalling €127,000 to an English company called Agricultural Innovation Consultants Limited for services it provided in relation to purported projects in Rwanda.
The payments were not recorded in the accounts of that company, which was incorporated in 2018, and has since been dissolved.
Bóthar believes the projects in Rwanda were falsified, and it does not know what was done with those funds.
The charity also alleges Mr Moloney used Bóthar funds to pay for personal expenses, including family holidays, and that he awarded himself an unauthorised 13th monthly salary payment.
Mr Beatty said Bóthar was also probing a pension fund of over €600,000 accumulated by Mr Moloney.
He told the court Bóthar began an internal investigation last year into various irregularities regarding how the charity was being run and that Mr Moloney did not cooperate.
Arising out of his non-cooperation, he was suspended last November and resigned from his post in February.
Mr Beatty said that as far as Bóthar was concerned the resignation was an attempt to prevent various matters from being uncovered.
It is also alleged he deleted vast swathes of data from the computer his employer provided him with and forged documents to cover his tracks.
Counsel claimed Mr Moloney had also conspired with others to have a former chairperson of Bóthar’s board, Harry Lawlor, removed from his position after an investigation into Mr Moloney’s conduct was raised.
In light of everything that had happened, and its decision to commence High Court proceedings, Bóthar has decided to cease all of its fundraising activities with immediate effect, Mr Beatty added.
In a sworn affidavit grounding the application, Mr Lawlor said Mr Moloney “betrayed the trust and confidence” the board had placed in him.
The charity had done some great work since its establishment over 30 years ago, he said.
“I am disgusted and profoundly saddened by what Mr Moloney has done,” Mr Lawlor said.
He added that he accepted the events that have recently come to light reflect badly on Bóthar’s board.
The board could only reproach itself for its “failure to appreciate Mr Moloney’s true motivations, or to reveal his clandestine schemes,” Mr Lawlor added.
Ms Justice Butler granted Bóthar the temporary freezing order on an ex-parte basis, where only one side was represented in court.
The judge, who also expressed her concerns about the costs the charity may incur due to the litigation, also gave Bóthar permission to seek orders requiring the defendant to provide a list of the full value or interest in any assets he holds
She also gave Bóthar permission to seek an order requiring Mr Moloney to provide details of funds donated to the charity that it is alleged he used for his own benefit or the benefit of third parties.
The action was made returnable to date next week.