Gardaí are investigating the suspected misappropriation of funds at Hepatitis C Support group Positive Action, believed to involve up to €200,000.

The investigation is at an advanced stage and has been ongoing for almost a year.

A woman has been interviewed by Gardaí under caution and an auditor's report has been received however no arrests have been made so far.

A file is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions who will decide if charges are to be preferred.

Speaking in Dublin this afternoon, Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said he wanted to reassure all women infected with Hepatitis C that their medical cards and benefits are secure.

He said none of them would be held responsible for what happened with Positive Action.

The minister said that because of the investigation, he was limited in what he could say.

However, he said that when it came to the whole charity and NGO sector, they needed to ensure that any money they are given by the State was used for the intended purposes.

Mr Varadkar said taxpayers' money was not used for what was intended at Positive Action.

He said he thought there may have been an assumption in the past that if an NGO or charity was doing good work, that it necessarily had all the right financial controls in place.

He said that they knew from Positive Action, Rehab and the CRC that was not always the case.

Mr Varadkar said NGOs and charities needed to be subject to exactly the same sort of financial and corporate governance controls as everyone else. 

It comes after the Public Accounts Committee said it is to investigate breaches of corporate governance and extravagant expenditure at the group.

The Director of an umbrella group for thousands of charities around Ireland said there has been a "sea change" in respect of how trustees and directors of such organisations appropriate funds.

Speaking on RTÉ's Six One programme Ivan Cooper of The Wheel said there was a clear governance failure, where the trustees and directors of the NGO did not know what their responsibilities were.

The Wheel does not represent Positive Action. 

Yesterday, RTE News revealed a Health Service Executive internal audit report into the extent of spending over a four-year period on overseas conferences, relaxation weekends, dining, and other items, including dog kennels.

PAC Chairman John McGuinness said the committee will seek further information from the HSE and investigate the possibility of inviting the former directors of Positive Action before it.

This evening Mr McGuinness accused the HSE of ignoring complaints from Positive Action members.

Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime Mr McGuinness acknowledged that an audit had been carried out, but said that the HSE should have had regulations for the spending of taxpayers' money.

Meanwhile, on RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke, former Positive Action board member Christine Bruton insisted the HSE was "very aware" of the group's expenditure and that it approved of therapies and weekend trips.

She said patients got solace from such therapies. Ms Bruton said Positive Action was subsidised by the Government and members paid a fee towards weekend trips.

She said she disapproved of some spending particularly on gifts, and she resisted this during her five years on the board.

The HSE has denied that it approved of the controversial spending.

HSE Director General Tony O'Brien told the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children that the internal audit report will be released once it is cleared legally.