The Bertie Ahern scandal and The Mahon Tribunal -- a guide to what has happened
Former Taoiseach believed by the Mahon Tribunal to have received secret payments
In the wake of the Tribunal’s findings, Ahern’s party Fianna Fail is stepping away from giving the now shamed former Taoiseach their support. Following a late night party meeting with other Fianna Fail members, leader Micheal Martin announced that he intended to expel Ahern from party membership, with the official decision coming on March 30th.
"The receipt by a senior office holder of large amounts of money which a sworn tribunal has held is of unclear origins, and the failure to give any credible explanation, requires an unequivocal response," said Martin, who served under Ahern in three Cabinet posts.
Martin added that Ahern’s reported falsities under oath "betrayed the trust placed in him by this country and this party."
Ahern admitted over his 15 days of testimony in 2007 to “keeping most of the money in personal safes at his office and home from 1992 to 1994; failing to keep a personal bank account during much of the time under investigation; and paying no tax on any of it until the investigators uncovered its existence,” reports Bloomberg Businessweek.
Ahern also testified that all undocumented payments were unsolicited gifts, and that identical payments from within Ireland were loans.Tax law at the time in Ireland didn’t require gifts from overseas and domestic loans to be taxed.
Ahern made no repayments on the 1993 "loans" until the investigators discovered fourteen years later in 2007. Ultimately, Ahern negotiated a tax settlement for the unearthed funds.
Of funds that were deposited into the accounts into his then-girlfriend Celia Larkin and his two daughters’ bank accounts, Ahern claimed he had won the money betting on horses. Judges dismissed his explanation.
In addition, they also found untrue Ahern and several of his business partners explanation that a pub fundraiser had been held to raise money for Ahern’s campaign.
The judges did, however, accept the testimony of stockbroker Padraic O'Connor, who said he “barely knew Ahern and had been asked by Fianna Fail to make a $8,300 political donation in a company check for Ahern's benefit, which he did.”
Gerry Howlin, Ahern’s former special adviser in government, described the Tribunal’s findings as "far worse than anything I expected or believed possible."
"He told me he was telling the truth," Howlin said. "His narrative is not believed, and it is damning and it is serious. ... His reputation has been very seriously damaged."
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