Richardson launches court challenge against findings of Mahon Tribunal

Businessman Des Richardson has brought a High Court challenge against a number of findings of the Mahon Tribunal including that he failed to disclose the source of IR£39,000 held in a bank account.

Mr Richardson, a fundraiser for Fianna Fail, claims the Tribunal's findings are wholly erroneous because at no stage during his examination by counsel for the Tribunal was he ever asked to account for the origins of the funds in the account, known as the Roevin Account.

Mr Richardson gave evidence over several days to the Tribunal in respect of its investigations into the finances of former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

The Tribunal heard that in 1993, funds from a company called Roevin Ireland Ltd were used to purchase a bank draft paid to Mr Ahern. Mr Richardson was examined extensively about his involvement with Roevin over two days of the Tribunal's public sittings.

In his proceedings, Mr Richardson of Serpentine Avenue, Dublin 4 wants two sections of the final report of the Tribunal of Inquiry in Certain Planning Matters and payments concerning him quashed.

The two paragraphs 4.162, 4.163 of the report state firstly that "Mr Richardson claimed not to have any knowledge of the source of the IR£39,000 which opened the (Roevin) account in 1992. The tribunal rejected Mr Richardson's evidence in this regard."

The second paragraph being challenged states that "the Tribunal found it incredible that Mr Richardson, who without difficulty appeared able to access the account of Roevin Ireland Ltd on December 22 1993 and uses its funds to obtain a draft payable to himself was unable to account to the Tribunal for the origin of funds in the account."

"The Tribunal did not believe Mr Richardson in this regard, and concluded that Mr Richardson, in all probability knew the reason why the account was opened and its purpose, and that he knew the source of the IR£39,000 which initially funded the account October 1992. Mr Richardson chose for whatever reason not to disclose this information to the Tribunal."

Today at the High Court Jim O'Callaghan SC for Mr Richardson said that at no stage during his extensive examination at the Tribunal was Mr Richardson asked about the his knowledge of the source of the IR£39,000 which was used to open the Roevin Account.

In addition Mr Richardson did not say to the Tribunal that he was unable to account for the origin of the funds in the account, counsel added.

Counsel said that Mr Richardson was never offered an opportunity to explain the source of the monies in the Roevin Account which he could have readily done had he been asked.

"It was not the case that Mr Richardson withheld significant information from the Tribunal," counsel said, that it had made findings in respect of matters that Mr Richardson was never asked about.

In his judicial review proceedings Mr Richardson is seeking various orders including one requiring the Tribunal to remove the two paragraphs in question from all forms of the final report.

He is also seeking an order that the Tribunal write to the Taoiseach and the Clerk of the Dáil and all other people who were furnished with the final report informing them the paragraphs have been removed.

Mr Richardson is further seeking declarations that the relevant portions of the report were irrational, unreasonable and at variance with common sense and breach his rights to fair procedures.

Leave to bring the proceedings was granted on an ex-parte (one side only) basis by Mr Justice Michael Peart. The Judge made the matter returnable to a date in July.

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