You might be wondering why the Tribunal is asking all these questions about a private account.
Will I tell you?
The Tribunal is trying to investigate whether Bertie received a corrupt payment of £80,000 from developer Owen O Callaghan. In order to do that, it must investigate any accounts Bertie had anything to do with.
At the moment, they’re looking at Bertie’s account in the Irish Permanent Building Society branch in Drumcondra.
Why is this important?
Well, for one thing, it’s important to find out if Bertie was bribed to push these kinds of projects at the expense of the ordinary citizen.
For another thing, Bertie has told the Tribunal in sworn evidence that he had no income other than his salary.
If it turns out that he had income other than his salary, then he has lied to the Tribunal under oath. This is an offence punishable by imprisonment and other politicians have already spent time behind bars for the same offence.
If he has received money other than his salary, we need to know its source, to determine if it’s part of a corrupt payment. We need to know if he received a huge bribe from a property developer to undermine the democratic planning process in this State.
That would be quite important.
It would be important to know, for example, if he had any influence on a planning decision to abandon the Neilstown Town Centre scheme and substitute it with the Liffey Valley Shopping Centre, which is not a town centre but a collection of shops in a covered shopping mall. (Thus depriving tens of thousands of people a proper town centre, and enriching a developer).
We also need to know if he paid tax on this income. If not, then he was defrauding the State while he was Minister for Finance and also when he was Prime Minister: right up to the present day.
So, what happened yesterday at the Tribunal?
Well, we learned about a lot of activity in bank accounts.
I thought it might make it clearer if I put it all into a table, so here’s a list of dates where UK money was converted to Irish and lodgments were subsequently made to the accounts of Bertie and his two daughters, aged 13 and 15.
Cash money, by the way.
Cash. Bundles of notes.
|UK currency||Conversion to IR£ equivalent||Amount lodged||Account holder|
|Mar 9th 1994|
|Mar 9th 1994|
|Mar 9th 1994|
|May 9th 1994|
|Oct 28th 1994|
Isn’t that an incredible coincidence? On each occasion, an amount of UK money was converted to Irish, and in the very same branch, on the very same day, exactly the same amount of Irish money was lodged to accounts owned by Bertie Ahern and his two children?
Now, remember, Bertie is the man who swore to the Tribunal that his income derived from his pay cheques as a government minister. I wasn’t aware that our government was paying its ministers in UK currency. Were you?
I think we’re entitled to know where our Prime Minister happened to come by such large amounts of foreign currency in cash. Don’t you?
Furthermore, in case you thought we were talking about a piddling amount of money, let me remind you of something. We now know the identity of the secretary in Bertie’s office who lodged this cash on his behalf. This secretary was being paid IR£66 per week in 1994. That’s IR£3,432.
The secretary lodged IR£15,565.57 on Bertie’s behalf that year: nearly five times her annual wage. In fact, between them, Bertie’s two children had more money from these lodgments than Bertie paid his secretary for the entire year. You might also be thinking that £2,000 each was nice going for a 13-year-old and a 15-year-old to have in their accounts.
In addition to all this, you might remember our old friend, the B/T account, from which a big pile of money was given to Bertie’s girlfriend to buy a house. This was the account started by Tim Collins who denied under oath that the B stood for Bertie, even though he’d opened another account — the D/T account — with Des Richardson.
Well, the former manager of the branch gave evidence that he always believed Bertie to be the owner of this account, and we heard earlier in the week that there’s no documentation in existence linking it legally with Fianna Fáil.
The manager told the Tribunal that on October 26th 1994, UK£20,000 was exchanged one-for-one with Irish money, producing IR£20,000, and that a cash sum of IR£20,000 was immediately lodged to the B/T account. These transactions were done on the same machine by the same teller and the lodgment followed immediately after the exchange of currency.
Isn’t that just an incredible coincidence?
How much are we up to now? What’s the running total?
Oh yeah. IR£35,565.57 (or 45,168.27 in euros, at a time when almost nobody in the entire country earned that much in a whole year by honest work).
Not bad going for one little branch in only eight months.
Now, all this is separate from the €38,000 euro equivalent in dig-out money from Paddy the Plasterer and his cartoon friends.
And it isn’t the €50,000 in cash he’d saved the previous year despite his ruinous marital separation. You know: the money that just happened to equate to a conversion from UK£25,000 and US$45,000.
And it’s not the €40,000 in cash he received from Mick Wall to refurbish a brand new house. That came in December.
I’m also not counting the conversions in the following year from UK£10,000 and UK£20,000. Let’s call them €40,000.
So that’s all adding up to €213,168.27 from sources other than Bertie’s salary, despite his evidence on oath to the Tribunal, and this is only the money we know of that went through some bank accounts. Don’t forget that Bertie is going to the High Court on April 1st in an effort to prevent the Tribunal asking about other currency transactions and other bank accounts. He’s also attempting to prevent the Tribunal from asking about expert advice he received on foreign currency conversions. Other than that, he has nothing to hide, it seems.
Jesus, we seem to be well past IR£80,000 already and we’re not even breaking a sweat.
That’s Ireland – Huge Digout at Bertie’s Office