Lowry faces second legal battle with key adviser

For the second time in two years, disgraced former minister Michael Lowry is facing a legal battle with his key financial adviser.

BBT accountants has lodged a case in the High Court against Mr Lowry over an outstanding bill for more than a decade of work. A previous action was dropped only to be re-entered earlier this month.

RTÉ has reported that the bill stands at more than €1m.

One of the firm’s partners is Denis O’Connor. He played an instrumental role in organising the independent politician’s affairs following his fall from grace in the mid-1990s.

The accountant was also intimately involved in sorting out various disputes that arose between parties involved in a deal to buy the ground of Doncaster Rovers soccer club.

His relationship with Mr Lowry predates the Moriarty Tribunal and originated when the politician’s disorganised accounts were first investigated.

Mr O’Connor was his adviser when he was negotiating with Revenue over his finances prior to the commencement of the McCracken Tribunal.

When Mr Lowry bought a house on Carysfort Avenue, Blackrock, Dublin with a loan routed through Fine Gael fundraiser David Austin, he tasked Mr O’Connor with handling the administrative details.

Mr Lowry used Mr O’Connor’s name to set up an offshore fund through which to channel money.

Later, Mr O’Connor organised Mr Lowry’s tax affairs and went through his books before he made a €1.4m penalty settlement.

This arose from payments the Tipperary politician received from Ben Dunne.

In 2001, when Mr Lowry was investing in property in England, Mr O’Connor travelled on his behalf to investigate the deals with the Northern Ireland land agent, Kevin Phelan.

It was Mr O’Connor who brokered a settlement deal between Mr Lowry and Mr Phelan when it was feared the agent would give damaging evidence to the Tribunal. Mr Lowry said this was to settle fees linked to his Wigan development project.

Mr O’Connor was also introduced to the Doncaster Rovers project, in which Mr Lowry has denied he had any involvement. Around the same time, Mr O’Connor worked for Denis O’Brien to broker another payoff to Mr Phelan.

The Moriarty Tribunal criticised the effect of Mr O’Connor’s actions as they resulted in the delivery of a contrived falsehood that thwarted its investigations. However, the tribunal said he was acting on Mr Lowry’s instruction.

“Mr Denis O’Connor is not only Mr Lowry’s accountant and adviser, but has demonstrably shown his loyalty and commitment to Mr Lowry’s interests,” the tribunal report said.

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