Updated: 02/02/18 : 04:18:04
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Swiss hold Leitrim man in charities cash probe

A LEITRIM born ex-IDA executive is being held in Switzerland on suspicion of embezzlement.

The father of four Carrick-on-Shannon native Peter Conlon (63) was arrested on December 22nd at Zurich Airport, it has emerged.

International charities claim they await funds of €3.8 million through the online arm of a Conlon company.

The money was given by donors to charities including the Red Cross and Save the Children via an online platform service provided by Pembroke Dynamic Internet Services Ltd, Upper Pembroke Street in Dublin 2 which Mr Conlon controlled as the listed managing director.

It was a complaint from International Federation of the Red Cross which led to Conlon’s arrest and continued detention.

Big-name Irish charities could be stung, too, but the extent may not be known for some time.

Both the Charities Regulator and a liquidator are engaged in separate probes.

The firm was wound up last week arising out of its failure to satisfy a debt owed to Revenue of approximately €400,000 and a liquidator was appointed.

Following investigations undertaken by the liquidator Myles Kirby in the days since his appointment it has been discovered several charities have not received some €3.8m donated to them via Pembroke Dynamic's services.

At the High Court, Rossa Fanning SC for the liquidator said it appeared Mr Conlon, who is a shareholder in various corporate vehicles that own Pembroke Dynamic, was "guilty of very serious misconduct".

Ms Justice Caroline Costello granted Mr Kirby temporary orders freezing Mr Conlon's assets below a value of €3.8m.

Reasonable Concerns

Irish charities having reasonable concerns they have not received donations are asked to contact the Regulator in writing.

Apart from being a former IDA executive, Mr Conlon is a qualified barrister and accountant.

Pembroke Dynamic provided an online platform for organisations including The Red Cross, Oxfam, charities affiliated to the United Nations, and Amnesty International to collect donations.

The money was to be held in trust for those organisation, before being distributed, minus a 5% commission, to the various charities. However this did not happen, counsel said.

The company collected €5.8m between March 2016 and September 2017, counsel said.

It collected a further €390,000 in December 2017 to the time it was wound up.

It was understood by colleagues and some of the company's 18 staff members that Mr Conlon had gone for a Christmas skiing holiday to Switzerland.

Although another source stated that he had relocated to Switzerland and was in the company of a 44-year-old German woman who was a fellow director of one of his companies.