Billionaire denies paying former minister ‘one red cent’

BUSINESSMAN Denis O’Brien denied ever paying a red cent to former communications minister Michael Lowry and claimed he had won the state’s second mobile phone licence fairly.

The telecoms billionaire rounded on the Moriarty Tribunal claiming its report was “fundamentally flawed” and called on the judiciary to investigate the inquiry’s chairperson and legal team.

Suggestions in the report that payments in the mid 1990s totalling almost stg£900,000 through circuitous routes had gone from accounts in his name to Mr Lowry’s were “total wrong”, Mr O’Brien added.

He argued that some of the damning report’s findings were based on hearsay, innuendo and anonymous letters.

Mr O’Brien said last night he was considering his legal options with his lawyers and pointed out that the report had not said that the phone licence was issued corruptly.

Mr O’Brien argued that the tribunal had, in its conclusions, ignored evidence given by the Department of Communications as well as Department of Finance, 17 civil servants as well as five government ministers.

It was “extremely disturbing”, he alleged, that the inquiry had also ignored testimonies from a former taoiseach, barristers from the Attorney General’s office as well as Danish consultant Michael Anderson.

Mr O’Brien denied that he had ever given any funds to former Fine Gael minister Michael Lowry.

“I wish to state in the most categoric terms once again that I never made any payment to Michael Lowry in his capacity as a government minister, as a public representative or as a private citizen.”

Tribunal chairman Mr Justice Michael Moriarty had previously admitted to making errors overseeing the inquiry, added Mr O’Brien.

“It has been evident from the outset to me and to many other witnesses before this Tribunal that the final report would be designed to damage the reputations of many reputable people.

“I believe it is now incumbent on the judiciary to investigate the conduct of Mr Justice Michael Moriarty and the Tribunal legal team for the manner in which they conducted themselves.”

Speaking on RTÉ news, the businessman claimed his challenges in the courts to stop the tribunal had failed because of a desire by colleagues to protect the inquiry’s chairman.

“I may have lost because the judiciary put a ring of steel around him because they know he was never up to the job of actually writing this report and the subsequently they said ‘God we’d better protect this man’.”

“There’s absolutely no evidence and nobody ever went into the tribunal saying that we won this unfairly or had any benefit of favouritism.

“I never paid Michael Lowry one red cent. This report is flawed in so many ways because it is hearsay, it is innuendo and it is a way of creating damage.”

“Moriarty had a view of the world that I was guilty when I went in in 2001 to start my evidence but I gave unfettered access to all my bank accounts, all my papers, all my diaries with no redaction whatsoever.”

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