€650,000 order made against Michael Lowry

An accountant who was found to have acted reprehensibly by misleading the Moriarty Tribunal to protect Michael Lowry has helped to secure a €650,000 judgment against the disgraced former minister.

Denis O’Connor had filed the affidavit on behalf of BBT accountants seeking a judgement for €1.74m for 12 years of work he did for Mr Lowry.

The accountant said BBT had clocked up bills of €2m during the tribunal but two payments, of €104,504 and €156,314, had been made. He said the total outstanding was €1.74m.

The Master of the High Court, Edmund Honohan, entered a judgment of €650,000 plus Vat against Mr Lowry, because this portion was not disputed.

Separate proceedings will decide the rest of the bill early next year.

Mr O’Connor was first drafted in to organise Mr Lowry’s tax affairs ahead of the McCracken Tribunal, and his firm was paid for this work. During the course of the Moriarty Tribunal, he continued to advise Mr Lowry.

In 2002, he was instrumental in brokering separate settlements on behalf of Mr Lowry and Denis O’Brien with the Northern Irish land agent Kevin Phelan.

This took place in 2002 but the tribunal did not learn about what it called the “shuttle diplomacy” until much later.

The work related to the English property projects Mr Phelan sourced for Mr Lowry and Mr O’Brien.

The tribunal said it was a source of some dispute that Mr O’Connor was not paid for his mediation role by Mr Lowry or Mr O’Brien.

However, it was critical of the accountant’s actions.

“Mr O’Connor, who had by 2001 developed a positive professional relationship with the tribunal, abused that relationship, and the tribunal is satisfied deliberately provided false response and false statement to the tribunal in 2005,” it said.

However, the tribunal report also noted that Mr O’Connor was not acting on his own account but was a facilitator and agent for Mr Lowry.

Mr Honohan, refused to put a stay on the entry of the €650,000 judgement.

However he did allow a stay on the execution of the judgment until proceedings relating to the rest of the €1.74m claim have been finalised.

Counsel for Mr Lowry said he would be appealing the judgment on the basis the court lacked the jurisdiction to make the order.

BBT’s counsel said Mr Lowry had at the “11th hour” sought an adjournment through an affidavit from his solicitors.

The TD, he said, is “no stranger to the courts and legal costs” and could have put in his own affidavit.

Counsel contended it was a deliberate attempt to procure an adjournment with the amount of time sought being eight weeks.

Counsel for Mr Lowry said it was a due process request and this was a contested case.

The court was told Mr Lowry will be filing a replying affidavit.


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