€400k spent on home for use by family of friend of ex-McVerry CEO

The Peter McVerry Trust charity spent nearly €400,000 on a house which was intended to be used by the family of a friend of its former CEO, Prime Time understands.

In an internal McVerry Trust document from July 2023 obtained by Prime Time, it is stated that the former CEO Pat Doyle had advised senior staff in the charity that the property in Kerry was for the use of the family of a specific friend.

Pat Doyle left the McVerry Trust in May 2023, after 18 years as CEO.

The document notes that when Mr Doyle’s successor sought evidence as to whether the family of Mr Doyle’s friend was eligible for such social housing, none could be obtained.

The document says the property was acquired using funds donated under the Department of Justice Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP).

That money, the document notes, was given for social housing “and not private or other forms of affordable housing.”

Using IIP money to purchase a house to be let to someone who did not qualify for social housing would constitute a breach of trust by the charity.

Ultimately, the proposed tenancy did not go ahead after Francis Doherty – who replaced Mr Doyle but subsequently resigned after fewer than five months at the helm of the charity – questioned its legitimacy.

According to publicly available property records, the Kerry property was bought by the McVerry Trust in late 2022 for over €290,000. Prime Time understands that the Trust paid a contractor around €100,000 to renovate the house.

Former Peter McVerry Trust CEO Pat Doyle

Property purchases by the Trust would normally be managed by the charity’s housing development team, while liaising with the relevant local authority.

However, in this case, the internal document states that “the process of acquisition, payment and appointment of a contractor [for refurbishment]” for the property “was managed by the previous CEO [Pat Doyle].”

Prime Time understands that the housing development team was unaware of the purchase of the property until after it was finalised.

Minutes of a McVerry Trust board meeting from last July show that a new “control” has since been put in place at the charity to prevent such a reoccurrence. Now, no single person in the organisation – including the CEO – has the power to sign off on such a significant item of expenditure.

While there is no suggestion that the family friend of the former CEO for whom the house was intended acted inappropriately, the case raises further significant issues of governance for the McVerry Trust.

Read more:
Internal files reveal breach of trust at major housing charity
McVerry Trust tenant awarded bus contract without tender process
Ex-CEO says McVerry Trust Board restricted contact with Regulator

Under the Immigrant Investor Programme – which has since closed – wealthy citizens from outside the European Economic Area could receive a residence visa for Ireland if they invested at least €1 million in Irish property or business. Alternatively, they could donate at least €400,000 for a project that was of public benefit to the arts, sports, health, culture or education in this country.

Prime Time has seen the McVerry Trust’s business plan sent to potential IIP donors with the aim of raising €8m to purchase six properties. It stated that the McVerry Trust was seeking to work with such donors to “provide a Housing led response to homelessness.”

The subtitle of the document, “Investment of Proposed Endowment Capital Sum €8m for Social Housing” made it clear that funds raised were to be spent on social housing.

The six properties in the document proposed for purchase using the IIP funds contained, or had the capacity to contain, multiple dwellings.

None were a single family home and none were in Kerry.

The same business plan sent to potential investors contained a section titled “Governance.”

It stated “the Peter McVerry Trust is committed to maintaining the highest standards of Corporate Governance. We believe that setting and maintaining these high standards is a key element in demonstrating accountability to all stakeholders, funders and supporters.”

Mr Doyle did not respond to a query sent by Prime Time about the house in Kerry.

He has previously declined to answer specific questions put to him about governance at the charity he headed from 2005 to 2023, though he has stated that he is cooperating with ongoing investigations by the Charities Regulator and the Approved Housing Bodies Regulatory Authority (AHBRA).

The AHBRA investigation was announced in September and the Charities Regulator investigation in October.

The McVerry Trust has also declined to answer specific questions relating to governance at the charity. It told Prime Time it too is cooperating with the regulators’ investigations and that it has “implemented new organisational policies and procedures, and it remains focused on delivering its services within its resources.”

According to the 2022 Peter McVerry Trust Annual Report, during that year, the charity “delivered over 280 social housing units across a range of schemes through construction, renewal, acquisition, and leasing.”

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button