Report says Ahern lied over source of £215,000

Bertie Ahern lied when accounting for more than £215,000 of money lodged to bank accounts connected to him, the tribunal believes.

In damning findings, the report said that “much of the explanation provided by Mr Ahern as to the source of the substantial funds… was deemed by the tribunal to have been untrue”.

The tribunal rejected Mr Ahern’s infamous claims that friends had organised “whip-arounds” and loans to help him out of financial difficulties after his marital separation.

Instead, it found that Mr Ahern had “failed to truthfully account” for a total lodgments worth £215,214 which flowed into accounts connected to him from the early to mid-’90s.

Among this money were sterling lodgments totalling stg£90,000 and a lodgment of $45,000.

The £215,214 total was lodged into various accounts held in the names of Mr Ahern, his then minor daughters, his then partner Celia Larkin and an account operated for the benefit of Mr Ahern and a close associate, businessman Tim Collins, known as the “B/T” account.

The tribunal stopped short of making a finding of corruption against Mr Ahern.

However, the inquiry said his failure to truthfully account for the monies in question meant it could not determine whether any of the money came from property developer Owen O’Callaghan.

This had been alleged by another developer, Tom Gilmartin, in his evidence to the tribunal and was the reason why Mr Ahern’s personal finances came under the inquiry’s spotlight.

“The purpose of the tribunal’s inquiries into Mr Ahern’s personal finances was to identify the sources of substantial lodgments and movements of funds into Mr Ahern’s bank accounts, and other accounts associated with him, within a specific time period, and by so doing, establish or exclude a connection between any of these funds and Mr O’Callaghan, either directly or indirectly,” the report stated.

“Regrettably, the tribunal’s inquiries were rendered inconclusive for the reasons stated (Mr Ahern’s untrue explanations).

“Because the tribunal has been unable to identify the true sources of the funds in question it cannot therefore determine whether or not the payment to Mr Ahern of all or any of the funds in question were in fact made by or initiated or arranged, directly or indirectly, by Mr O’Callaghan, or, indeed by any other identifiable third party.”

In rejecting Mr Ahern’s evidence about the whip-arounds, the tribunal also rejected the evidence of several of his friends and associates concerning the money in question.

“The tribunal rejected the evidence of Mr Ahern, Mr (Des) Richardson, Mr Charlie Chawke, Mr Michael Collins, Mr David McKenna, and Mr Jim Nugent in relation to their involvement in a collection for Mr Ahern of IR£22,500 in Dec 1993,” the report stated.

Money trail

* December 3, 1987: Alleged meeting at the Gresham Hotel in Dublin at which 20 Ahern supporters promised to contribute £1,000 per annum for a number of years to fund the purchase of a constituency office at St Luke’s

* June 6, 1989: Tim Collins opens B/T account at Irish Permanent in Drumcondra. Ahern says it was opened for St Luke’s upkeep. Denies it stood for Bertie/Tim. Claim is rejected by tribunal

* August 25, 1992: £20,000 lodged in B/T account

* November 1993: Ahern is legally separated from his wife, Miriam. His legal bill comes to £19,115

* December 1993: Des Richardson and Gerry Brennan (Ahern’s solicitor) organised first alleged dig-out worth £22,500 from eight friends of Ahern. Claim is rejected by tribunal

* April 25, 1994: Ahern lodges £30,000 in account at AIB O’Connell St

* August 8, 1994: Ahern lodges a further £20,000 to the account

* October 11, 1994: Ahern lodges £24,838 to bank account. Tribunal rejects his claim that it included the proceeds of a second dig-out plus a collection of £8,000 after a function in Manchester. It believes it was a lodgement of stg£25,000

* November 1994: Michael Wall pays £138,000 for Ahern’s future home at No 44 Beresford, Drumcondra

* December 5, 1994: Celia Larkin lodges £28,772.90 at AIB O’Connell St which Ahern claims was largely cash provided by Michael Wall for refurbishment of his Drumcondra home. Tribunal claims it was a sum equal to a lodgement of $45,000

* June 15, 1995: £11,743 lodged to Larkin’s account. Ahern claims sum mostly lodgement of stg£10,000. Tribunal rejects this explanation

* December 1, 1995: £19,142.92 lodged to Ahern’s account representing stg£20,000. No supporting bank records

* June 26, 1997: Ahern becomes Taoiseach

* November 4, 1997: Government establishes Planning Tribunal

* September 2006: Irish Times report reveals the tribunal is investigating payments to Ahern

* March 2008: Ahern’s secretary Gráinne Carruth gives evidence which contradicts Ahern’s testimony

* May 7, 2008: Ahern steps down as Taoiseach under a cloud of controversy

* March 22, 2012: Tribunal report rejects most of Ahern’s evidence on the source of over £165,000 in his accounts as untrue.


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