Mahon report: Ahern evidence about money 'untrue'




Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern failed to tell the truth about money paid into his bank accounts in the early 1990s, according to the final report of the Mahon tribunal.

The tribunal this moring published its long-awaited findings after a 15-year investigation with a damning indictment of Mr Ahern’s 15 days of evidence about a labyrinthine money trail.

However it it stops short of making a finding of corruption against Mr Ahern.

READ THE FINAL MAHON REPORT HERE

The inquiry found the former taoiseach failed to truthfully account for tens of thousands of pounds which passed through his accounts.

“Much of the explanation provided by Mr Ahern as to the source of the substantial funds identified and inquired into in the course of the Tribunal’s public hearings was deemed by the Tribunal to have been untrue,” the report concluded.

"Those findings of fact which are adverse to Mr Ahern and on occasion others clearly demonstrated that important aspects of Mr Ahern's evidence was rejected by the tribunal."

Mr Ahern failed to explain the true source of lodgements of IR£22,500 in December 1993 and £10,000 pounds sterling in June 1995 to his bank account, according to the report.

Tribunal head Judge Alan Mahon has rejected Mr Ahern's evidence that he was saving sterling to put towards the purchase of an investment property in Manchester.

Judge Mahon reported that he could not rule out or establish any basis in the allegations that Mr Ahern had been paid off by a developer.

Tom Gilmartin, a property developer, alleged another developer, Owen O’Callaghan from Cork, had boasted about paying Mr Ahern two sums – IR£50,000 in 1989 and IR£30,000 in 1992 when he was finance minister.

“Regrettably, the Tribunal’s inquiries were rendered inconclusive,” Judge Mahon said.

“Because the tribunal has been unable to identify the true sources of the funds in question, it could not therefore determine whether or not the payment to Mr Ahern of all or any of the fund in question were in fact made by or initiated or arranged directly or indirectly by Mr O’Callaghan or by any other identifiable third party or parties.”

The report concludes that it cannot substantiate any allegations of corruption against Mr Ahern.

The sums of money Mr Ahern was dealing with totalled about €165,000 in various cash sums.

On one amount the tribunal found: “Because the tribunal was not provided with a truthful account as to the source of the said lodgement of IR£22,500 to Mr Ahern’s bank account on 30 December 1993, it was unable to determine the original source of such funds.”

The report found that Mr Ahern and his associate Tim Collins failed to truthfully account for a sum of IR£50,000 lodged into the so called 'B/T account' between 1992 and 1994.

The former taoiseach gave evidence on 15 days between 2006 and 2008 at public hearings in Dublin Castle. This was to be his downfall.

After revealing a bizarre money trail of whip-arounds from friends, unsolicited payment for a Manchester dinner, wins on the horses, cash savings for property investments, bags of cash and a lack of bank accounts, Mr Ahern‘s evidence was turned on its head by his former secretary, Grainne Carruth.

The taoiseach at the time had always denied dealing in foreign currencies but he was forced to resign amid a storm of controversy after Ms Carruth revealed she had lodged sterling sums into accounts on his behalf.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has promised swift action against anyone found by the tribunal to have engaged in wrongdoing, and said he would act without fear or favour against anyone who abused their position.

Senior party figures meet tonight to decide what action will be taken against Mr Ahern.

In wider investigations linked to planning scandals and developers, former EU Commissioner Padraig Flynn was branded corrupt.

The inquiry found he wrongfully and corruptly sought money from the developer Mr Gilmartin for the benefit of his party.

The tribunal ruled: “Mr Flynn, having wrongfully and corruptly sought a substantial donation from Mr Gilmartin for the Fianna Fáil party, and having been paid IR£50,000 by Mr Gilmartin for that purpose, proceeded to utilise the money for his personal benefit.”

The tribunal found Mr Gilmartin was acting under duress or coerced into making the donation and felt he had no choice in order to stop elected representatives obstructing his plan for a major shopping centre in west Dublin, now known as Liffey Valley and known as Quarryvale in the late 1980s.

Part of the IR£50,000 was used to buy a farm in Cloonanass, Co Mayo, in the name of Mr Flynn‘s wife Dorothy, the report said.

The report has also found that the late Fianna Fáil TD Liam Lawlor "corruptly requested a payment of IR£100,000" for himself and former Dublin City and County Assistant Manager George Redmond.

The 3,270-page final report of the Planning and Payments Tribunal was published online this morning.

The inquiry sat in public for more than 900 days over 11 years, hearing from 400 witnesses and examining 130,000 pages of documents.

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