Bertie agrees payments were ‘memorable’

DURING his third day of questioning, the Taoiseach agreed the stg£68,000 in five payments he was being quizzed over were “memorable”.

He also agreed the inquiry had begun its investigations without knowing about even one of the transactions, all of which involved foreign exchanges. There were questions about his evidence over a withdrawal of IR£50,000 from partner Celia Larkin’s bank account. He eventually purchased stg£30,000 but failed to tell the inquiry this until recently.

DES O’NEILL: We have a position where we’re trying to trace the money. We find that the money comes out of your account as IR£50,000 on the 5th of December and goes into Ms Larkin’s account where it stays until the 19th of January of the following year.

BERTIE AHERN: Uh-huh.

DON: That is recorded. That is the money trail which can be seen.

BA: Yes.

DON: It’s evidenced by the bank. Right?

BA: Yes.

DON: That trail ends with the money coming out of her account in your name.

BA: Uh-huh.

DON: In cash, isn’t that right?

BA: Yes.

DON: And now the trail stops. It stops at a point where apparently you’ve IR£50,000 in cash. The tribunal is enquiring from you what became of that IR£50,000 and you say it remained in my (your) safe in St Luke’s until such time as it was spent. Now, in that context, I’m putting it to you that it was material that in fact you had used that money to conduct another banking transaction. Namely, the purchase of stg£30,000, because that would mean that the money trail would start all over again and one could move forward from that point.

* While Mr Ahern’s legal team strongly contested any suggestion he had failed to supply the tribunal with available details about transactions, Judge Alan Mahon made the point clear.

JUDGE ALAN MAHON: The point, Mr Ahern, that Mr O’Neill is making is that there are significant gaps in that trail which would make it impossible for the tribunal, based on that information, to have followed the money from day one to the ends of that trail. You seem to have a view that this was, that it was all the same once you said this is where the money came from and this is where it ends up. But there’s a lot of information there in between which would have been vital information for the inquiry. Were you not aware that by leaving out that information it would effectively leave a hole in the trail?

* Mr Ahern was accused by Judge Mary Faherty of giving “polar opposite” accounts of why he decided to return stg£30,000 back to Michael Wall which the businessman had given him to allegedly refurbish Beresford house. Mr Ahern denied the money had been originally given to him, rather than for the purpose of the house.

DON: I think you would agree with me, Mr Ahern, that if you consider that the money that was paid by Mr Wall in St Luke’s on the 3rd of December 1994, was a contribution to you that required to be refunded, if that is a conclusion that one must draw from your account of events now, that conclusion inevitably leads to the conclusion that the account you had given of your acting merely as a conduit for his funds must fall, it can’t be accurate?

BA: No, no, Mr O’Neill.

DON: You don’t accept that?

BA: Because of what you are doing now, what you have been trying to do. You are trying to say that the money that Mr Wall gave into the account was in some way for me, it wasn’t for me.

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