O’Callaghan ‘was unaware’ bribes were paid

Former lobbyist Frank Dunlop has claimed that Cork developer Owen O’Callaghan was not aware of bribes paid to councillors for rezoning land at Quarryvale, which later became Liffey Valley Shopping Centre.

Mr Dunlop was giving evidence at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court corruption trial of businessman Jim Kennedy and four councillors.

Mr Kennedy, aged 66, of Queens Quay, Gibraltar, denies making corrupt payments to councillors through Mr Dunlop between 1992 and Oct 1997 for their votes to rezone land at Carrickmines.

Under cross-examination from Michael O’Higgins SC, defending, Mr Dunlop said he met Mr O’Callaghan in 1991 and agreed a fee for lobbying work to secure the Quarryvale rezoning.

He said Mr O’Callaghan paid him a total of £1.8m for his work but he never told the developer he was going to bribe councillors for their votes, because he “didn’t know anything about his background”.

“I didn’t know what his reaction might be,” said Mr Dunlop, admitting that he had been “deceitful” and feared Mr O’Callaghan might “run away” if he knew he was going to “play a crooked game”.

Mr Dunlop said the agreement was that his lobbying fees would be paid to his false company, Shefran, on which he did not pay tax, in order to keep all transactions “off the radar”.

Mr Dunlop said one of the reasons for using Shefran was so that Sean Gilmartin, who owned the Quarryvale site, would not be aware of his role in the project.

He said Mr Gilmartin knew of his friendship with the late Liam Lawlor and because of that, did not want him involved.

Mr Dunlop denied that he treated Mr O’Callaghan like “an idiot abroad” or that he had “shafted him” by tainting all his motions to have the land rezoned.

He rejected the suggestion that by contaminating the rezoning motions he had left Mr O’Callaghan open to an action by the Criminal Assets Bureau to seize profits, similar to the action faced by Mr Kennedy regarding Carrickmines.

“Mr O’Callaghan is a long-standing friend of mine. I speak to him quite frequently. These matters do not in any way obtrude. He has never raised the fact that I might have exposed him to risk. I’d be very surprised if he thought I’d done him down,” said Mr Dunlop.

Mr Dunlop has testified Mr Kennedy gave him £25,000 in 1991 to bribe four councillors.


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