November 22, 2022

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A file on alleged financial mismanagement relating to the operation of the defunct National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) has been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

It follows a lengthy investigation into the association’s accounts by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) and detectives from the National Economic Crime Bureau.

It is understood the association’s former chief executive Chris Goodey was arrested and questioned by investigators last month in connection with the inquiry.

News of the investigation was first revealed by the Business Post, while the Sunday Independent reported Mr Goodey’s arrest. The businessman did not respond to a request for comment from The Irish Times on Sunday but earlier told the Sunday Independent he was happy to co-operate with gardaí on the matter.

The ODCE has since been succeeded by the Corporate Enforcement Authority (CEA) which refused to comment on the investigation this week. If the DPP directs charges, the former officers of the NAGP could face criminal prosecution.

Mr Goodey, who lives in Spain, was arrested after he returned to Ireland last month. He was later released after being questioned by gardaí.

News of the investigation comes following the DPP’s decision not to direct charges against Tánaiste Leo Varadkar or other former NAGP employees over separate allegations relating to the leaking of a confidential document by Mr Varadkar.

The investigation of the NAGP’s finances dates back to 2019 when allegations of widespread financial irregularities were made. These included allegations of unvouched expenses, improper use of the company credit card and other unusual payments.

In April 2019, NAGP president Dr Maitiú Ó’Tuathail, resigned from the organisation saying he had “grave concerns” regarding its governance. The association’s national council also stepped down, citing serious issues of internal governance.

No cash available

The association went into voluntary liquidation in June 2019 shortly after the allegations of financial mismanagement became public. It was wound up with almost €400,000 in debts and no cash available to pay its many creditors.

At the time, Mr Goodey said the NAGP had struggled to collect subscriptions from its some 2,000 member doctors due to “negative publicity”. He said a €200,000 rescue package that had been arranged had fallen through for the same reason.

Concerns about its governance were first raised in 2018 when an examination of the association’s books by an external company identified several areas of concern and warned the association may become a target of Revenue.

The NAGP was a rival organisation to the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) which also represented GPs. However, unlike the IMO, it did not negotiate directly with government in negotiating GP fees and was not affiliated with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

The leaking by Mr Varadkar of a draft agreement between the IMO and Government to the NAGP was the subject of a criminal investigation by the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau.

Last week the DPP directed that no charges be brought against anyone in connection with the investigation.

Mr Varadkar had previously admitted it was wrong to give the NAGP the contract through informal channels but denied any criminal wrongdoing. He claimed the allegations were politically motivated.

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