Quest to balance Bertie’s books

EXPLAINING Bertie Ahern’s finances feels like trying to catch a tenner that you’ve dropped on a breezy day. Just when you think you have grasped it, another gust of wind carries it away.

The tribunal is specifically looking into four lodgments that were made into bank accounts in the name of Bertie Ahern, right, and Celia Larkin between October 1994 and December 1995. The total amount was IR£85,000 and all involved foreign transactions.

It was only in April this year that he made the Tribunal aware that three lodgements involved foreign transactions.

Also noteworthy, Ahern claimed he saved IR£50,000 between 1987 and 1993, when he held no bank account. He says that this money was lodged, withdrawn and lodged again during the period.

1. The first lodgment, October 1994. What is agreed is that the amount lodged in Irish punts was £24,838.

What Ahern says: Lodgment was made up of two components. One was the stg£8,000 raised in Manchester. The other was IR£16,500. The Irish sum was the second goodwill loan he got from his friends (the first goodwill loan from friends worth IR£22,500 was lodged in December 1993).

What the tribunal says: Ahern was very precise about the amounts of stg£8,000 and IR£16,500. But as they don’t equate to IR£24,838, under the exchange rates that day, Ahern now says both could have been more or less. The tribunal says that the amount lodged equated to exactly stg£25,000 on one of the exchange rates of the day. But that rate is an inappropriate rate, one that only applies to exchanges of stg£2,500 or less. If the tribunal’s version is accepted, Ahern’s version is a fabrication and a lie.

2. The second lodgment, December 1994 — the Michael Wall sterling lodgement. The lodgment was for IR£28,772 into a new account opened in Celia Larkin’s name.

What Ahern says: It was the stg£30,000 that Wall gave him for renovating his home. Says there could be a couple of Irish punts thrown in.

What the tribunal says: Bank records suggest only stg£1,900 dealt with by that branch that day. It claims the figure in Irish punts equates exactly with a lodgment of $45,000. Ahern denies this and says that currency expert Paddy Stronge will back him up.

3. A lodgment in June 1995 to a new Celia Larkin account. The amount was for IR£11,743.74. Bertie Ahern accepted in April the money was comprised of IR£2,000 and stg£10,000.

What Ahern says: It was money from IR£50,000 he had in savings. He converted circa IR£30,000 of it into sterling to return the sum given by Michael Wall. At that time Wall was thinking of pulling out of buying the house. But then he changed his mind and gave stg£10,000 of it to Celia for decorating the house.

The tribunal will say: Why not tell this version until April this year? Was the money from an entirely different source?

4. A lodgment on December 1, 1995 for IR£19,142.92. Ahern accepted in April that this was a sum of stg£20,000.

What Ahern says: This was the balance of the stg£30,000 that was unspent and that he converted and lodged to his account.

What tribunal will say: Why did he not explain it before April.

— Compiled by Harry McGee

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