by MICHAEL OTTO
Members of the Hibernian Catholic Benefit Society are to consider working towards closing the society at a national level.
The society’s board intends to move a remit to this effect at an annual meeting in Wellington on
July 25.
This intended action comes after society president Phil Horan presented a “comprehensive paper”
on the past, present and future of the society at a board meeting in early May.
Moving towards closing at a national level would be in the best interests of members, the board
believes.
But the board emphasises that the remit applies to the national level, not branch level. Working
towards closing at a national level would involve “distributing national assets”.
The Hibernian Catholic Benefit Society started in New Zealand in 1869, as an off shoot of an Australian organisation.The Hibernians were rocked when former employee Susan Hagai defrauded
the society and the former credit union of $1.2 million. This led to the liquidation of the credit union in 2012.
Hagai received a jail sentence of four years and two months in 2011, after pleading guilty.
She served about 16 months of the sentence.
Last year, the Employment Relations Authority ordered Hagai to repay $574,000 to the society, plus interest and costs.
NZ Catholic asked society president Phil Horan why the board is recommending that members agree
the society be closed at national level.
“I’m not prepared to make any comment on that at this moment, because it is a matter that the members have to make a decision on yet, and I would not be looking to make any statement
until the members have advised us what they want to do,” Mr Horan replied.
“At this stage it is simply a proposal that the board have placed to members; there are a couple of proposals that have gone to them.
“We will be awaiting their guidance or decision at the annual meeting as to what they want to do.”
Mr Horan said a paper would go out to members.
NZ Catholic also inquired as to the progress of Hagai’s repayments, and the status of civil
litigation the Hibernians took against their former auditors Grant Thornton.
Mr Horan would not comment on either matter.

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