Burke faces threat of jail sentence for hindering Tribunal

FORMER Fianna Fáil minister Ray Burke could be facing a two-year jail sentence over his failure to co-operate with the Tribunal on 14 separate counts.

Tribunal chairman, Mr Justice Feargus Flood has ruled that the retired Dublin North TD repeatedly hindered the work of the planning inquiry in relation to all aspects of its investigation into his finances.

Seventeen other people, including most of the high-profile individuals found to have been involved in making corrupt payments to Burke, such as Oliver Barry and four leading property developers, could also face prosecution for obstructing the Tribunal's work.

Under the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act, any person found guilty of such an offence could be liable for a maximum jail sentence of two years and-or a fine of €12,700.

Mr Justice Flood has now forwarded his comprehensive 400-page report, which found the former minister had received a series of corrupt payments worth over €250,000, to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The chairman said the fact that the Tribunal had now been running for almost five years was partly due to the failure of persons to provide information as required under the law.

The DPP will now decide if any of the parties identified should face prosecution. All the parties may also ultimately be forced to pay a large portion of the Tribunal's running costs, which currently stand at over €21.5m.

The Tribunal found that the following people obstructed its work.

Ray Burke for failing to provide a truthful account about how he acquired his home, Briargate, in Swords, and for giving a false account about how he financed its purchase. He was also accused of providing a false reason for opening offshore bank accounts which were in fact used to receive corrupt payments from Tom Brennan and Joe McGowan.

Burke also failed to give the true reason for the £35,000 he received from Oliver Barry and gave a false explanation why he introduced a cap on RTÉ advertising in 1990. He also failed to give the Tribunal a truthful account about the circumstances of a payment by JMSE in his home in 1989.

Tom Brennan and Joe McGowan the two property developers were found to have hindered the Tribunal on seven separate issues in relation to a series of payments they made to Burke, as well as colluding with Burke about evidence. They were also found to have given a false account about their business relationship with the estate agent, John Finnegan.

John Finnegan the auctioneer obstructed the Tribunal's work on five counts, including making a false claim that £10,000 he gave to Burke was a business expense, and a failure to provide documentation.

John Caldwell Brennan and McGowan's legal adviser hindered the Tribunal on three matters, including the failure to supply an affidavit and comply with a Tribunal order.

Hugh Owens Brennan and McGowan's accountant did not provide the Tribunal with a full explanation of schemes he devised for the two developers in land transactions from which Burke was paid £60,000.

Oliver Barry the concert promoter obstructed the inquiry on five counts, including his failure to give truthful accounts of his motive for giving Burke £35,000 in 1989, and his role in getting the politician to introduce a cap on RTÉ advertising.

James Stafford Barry's former business partner also failed to co-operate on five separate matters about the same issue.

PJ Mara the leading Fianna Fáil strategist failed to provide the Tribunal with details about an offshore account he held in the Isle of Man.

Joseph Murphy Snr the Tribunal said it was satisfied that the late Channel Island-based multi-millionaire hindered its work on six counts, including his exact knowledge about the JMSE payment to Burke.

Joseph Murphy Jnr similarly, Murphy's son obstructed the Tribunal on five issues, including the construction of a false alibi that he was not present during the payment to Burke by JMSE at the politician's home.

Roger Copsey the former JMSE director hindered the Tribunal's work on four counts, including false information about the company's accounts.

Frank Reynolds JMSE's managing director was found to have hindered the inquiry on five counts, including collusion with other JMSE witnesses about the role of James Gogarty in the payment to Burke.

Tim O'Keeffe the JMSE accountant obstructed the Tribunal on two counts covering his knowledge of the JMSE payment.

John Bates the JMSE employee was found to have given a false account of how he treated the £30,000 Burke payment to Burke in the company's accounts.

Michael Bailey the leading property developer obstructed the Tribunal on eight counts, including the disclosure of confidential Tribunal papers to a Sunday Independent journalist. He also provided a series of false explanations about Bovale's accounts and his role in the Burke payment.

Tom Bailey Michael's brother and business partner hindered the Tribunal's work on four separate issues, including colluding with his brother to give a false account about their dealings with James Gogarty.

Caroline Bailey Tom's wife also obstructed the inquiry on four counts in relation to the company's accounts and preparing a false document to record payments to Mr Gogarty.

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