THE HEARING RESUMED ON THE 6TH OF OCTOBER, 1999, AS FOLLOWS:
CHAIRMAN: Good morning. Mr. Coughlan?
MR. COUGHLAN: May it please you, sir.
At these resumed public sittings of the Tribunal a number of areas will be examined in the context, mainly, of Terms of Reference A, B and C. Firstly, the Tribunal will re-visit some of the material already touched on at its adjourned sittings in July. This will cover a number of aspects of the Leader’s Allowance Account, including lodgements to the account of payments made to defray the medical expenses of the late Mr. Brian Lenihan, but also cover other aspects of the overall operation of this account.
Thereafter the Tribunal will pass on to examine material accumulated in the course of its private investigatory work with a view to arriving at some figure for the quantum of, and to identifying to some extent the sources, of the monies used to fund the bill paying services operated on behalf of Mr. Haughey during the years 1985 to 1991. The Tribunal will examine also more extensively than it has hitherto done, the role of the late Mr. J Desmond Traynor in the finances of Mr. Haughey, and in particular the manner in which the Ansbacher Accounts operated in connection with payments made to Mr. Haughey, to which reference has already been made in connection with payments made to Mr. Haughey.
Detailed opening statements will be made as soon as the Tribunal comes to deal with each of these areas.
At these resumed sittings it will be necessary to refer to the Terms of Reference for the purpose of revising and amplifying the Tribunal’s interpretation given on the 24th of September, 1998. This is something I will refer to later on when I come to deal with the relevant material made available to the Tribunal.
Firstly, dealing with Irish Permanent Building Society Cheques. At the Tribunal’s adjourned sittings evidence was given that a number of cheques drawn on the account of the Irish Permanent Building Society were given to Mr. Charles Haughey in June of 1989. One of these cheques, dated the 7th of June, was for the sum of ?20,000 and was given to Mr. Haughey in response to a request for contributions to help defray the medical expenses of the late Mr. Brian Lenihan. Evidence was given that another of these cheques, again dated the 7th of June, this time for the sum of £10,000, was intended as a contribution to Mr. Haughey’s personal campaign for the June elections of that year.
These cheques appear to have been endorsed by Mr. Haughey and were then lodged to an account of Celtic Helicopters at the Dublin Airport branch of the Bank of Ireland. Subsequently, a single cheque for £30,000 was drawn on the account of Celtic Helicopters at that bank. This cheque was dated the 13th of June of 1989. It was made out to cash. Evidence has already been given by Mr. John Barnicle, a Director of Celtic Helicopters, (evidence with which the Tribunal was told Mr. Ciaran Haughey agreed), that the payment of £30,000 into the account of Celtic Helicopters and the subsequent payment of the same amount out of the account, could only have represented an intended prepayment by Mr. Haughey to the helicopter company for flying hours; that the payment out could only have represented a cancellation of that prepayment for flying hours.
Before any of this evidence was given at the Tribunal at its July sittings, the material and the available statements concerning the two Irish Permanent cheques amounting to £30,000, and the single Celtic Helicopters cheque in the sum of £30,000, were brought to the attention of Mr. Haughey’s solicitors and he was invited to comment. (This, of course, is the case with all material adduced in evidence at the Tribunal’s public sittings). Perhaps I should clarify; we have the payment out, we didn’t have the actual cheque at that stage.
Mr. Haughey subsequently made a statement to the press on the 29th of July, 1999. By letter of the 30th of July, 1999, in response to a request from the Tribunal, Mr. Haughey’s solicitors confirmed this statement.
Mr. Haughey’s statement is as follows:
“Widespread media reports that former Taoiseach, Charles Haughey, diverted for his own use money subscribed to a fund raised to meet the medical expenses of the late Mr. Brian Lenihan are untrue.
These reports relate to two cheques dated the 7th of June of 1989, payable to Charles Haughey issued by the Irish Permanent Building Society, one for £20,000 intended as a subscription to the Brian Lenihan Fund and the other for £10,000 intended as a political donation. A general election was held on the 15th of June 1989″. The article goes on:
“These two cheques were inadvertently lodged to the account of Celtic Helicopters on the 13th of June, 1989. On the same day a cheque for £30,000 was drawn on the Celtic Helicopters account in Bank of Ireland, Dublin Airport. An examination of the available bank records indicate that this cheque for £30,000 was in fact lodged to the Party Leader’s Account on the 20th of June of 1989 in Allied Irish Bank, Baggot Street. This was the same account to which the contributions to the Brian Lenihan Fund were lodged.
All of the above records are available to the Moriarty Tribunal” and it is dated the 29th of July, 1999.
Now, the statement issued by Mr. Haughey is referred to, and he correctly indicates in the statement that there were widespread media reports, that suggestion was not made at the Tribunal. The Tribunal’s interest was in the cheque.
On receipt of confirmation of the contents of the statement from Mr. Haughey’s solicitors, the Tribunal requested Mr. Haughey, through his solicitors, to identify the bank records available to the Tribunal which would have indicated what was stated in the statement; namely, that the cheque for £30,000 had in fact been lodged to the Party Leaders Account on the 20th of June, 1989, at Allied Irish Bank, Baggot Street. No response has yet been received from Mr. Haughey’s solicitors. The Tribunal has however, examined the Leader’s Allowance Account at the relevant time. It has also examined related accounts. In the light of the statement the further information made available to the Tribunal in the matter has once again been re-examined.
The Celtic Helicopters, Bank of Ireland, Dublin Airport Branch statement records a lodgement on the 13th of June of £30,000. That’s on the overhead projector at the moment. Sorry, could you just – I wonder could you just leave that, the original statement up for the moment, please? The “13” is slightly obscure but it is in fact and it has been confirmed, that it is in fact the 13th.
This corresponds, this lodgement corresponds to the two cheques drawn on the account of Irish Permanent Building Society, that is to say the £20,000 cheque and the £10,000 cheque. It would appear that a cheque was drawn on the same date in the sum of £30,000 on the account of Celtic Helicopters at Bank of Ireland, Dublin Airport Branch. On the 13th — I wonder could we just show that on the overhead projector?
The cheque was the £30,000 cheque payable to cash. The reverse side of this cheque contains a bank stamp or brand. The brand indicates that the cheque was presented at Allied Irish Banks, 1 to 3 Baggot Street branch on the 20th of June of 1989. It doesn’t come up very clearly, but that has in fact been confirmed, what it does state.
However, the Tribunal has been unable to identify any document or uncover any evidence suggesting that the £30,000 was actually lodged to the Leader’s Allowance Account on that day or on any subsequent date.
There is no discrete lodgement of £30,000 to the Leader’s Allowance Account on the 20th of June, 1989, the date of the presentation of the Celtic Helicopters cheque. There are, however, two separate lodgements recorded as having been credited to the account on that date. One is in the sum of £7,288.63, and the other in the sum of £36,000. While the second of these lodgements could of course have incorporated a lodgement of £30,000 together with a lodgement of a further £6,000, an examination of the available material would seem to indicate that this was not the case.
This is because the Tribunal has learned that another cheque in the sum of £25,000 appears to have been lodged to the account on the same day, the 20th of June, 1989. This was a cheque drawn on the account of Goodman International and signed by Mr. Larry Goodman. It was dated the 13th of June, 1989, and drawn on an account of Allied Irish Banks, 73 Clanbrassil Street, Dundalk, County Louth. The cheque was made payable to “Fianna Fail Party Leadership Fund”. This was a cheque drawn by Mr. Goodman in favour of Fianna Fail at the request of the late; sorry Fianna Fail Party, at the request of the late Mr. Peter Hanley who had contacted Mr. Goodman to inquire whether Mr. Goodman would be prepared to make a contribution towards the medical expenses of the late Mr. Brian Lenihan. Mr. Goodman has informed the Tribunal that having agreed to make a contribution, he received a telephone call from the Taoiseach’s office requesting that the cheque be made payable in the manner I have just described and as appears on the cheque on the overhead projector, “Fianna Fail Party Leadership Fund”.
I should emphasise that Mr. Goodman made this payment for the purpose requested and always intended that it should be used for that purpose. And he made it payable to the fund, or to the account, as he was indicated or directed to so do.
From the markings on the face of this cheque it would appear that the cheque was presented at AIB, Baggot Street on the 20th of June, 1989. While it would appear, therefore, that each of these cheques, that is the cheque for £25,000 and the cheque for £30,000, were presented at Baggot Street AIB on the 20th of June, the total of the lodgements to the account on that date might be in excess of £42,000 is less than the total of those two cheques.
The bank has provided assistance to the Tribunal in ascertaining the manner in which each of these cheques were presented, and I emphasise “presented to the bank” on the 29th of June, 1989, were processed. One of these cheques has a number called a “tracer number” printed on the front of it. If you turn it upside down, you can see, just under the cheque. This number is applied in the course of the bank’s collection process and enables the bank to identify the transaction to which it relates. The tracer number on this cheque is “00816”. The presence of this number indicates that the cheque went through the normal process of the clearing house system. The tracer number on the transaction comprising the lodgement of £36,000 on the same day, the 20th of June 1989, is “0812”. The Bank has informed the Tribunal that having regard to the proximity of one another of these two tracer numbers it would appear that the Goodman cheque for £25,000 formed part of the £36,000 lodgement.
Just for clarity I will go through the whole tracer number rather than the shorthand way of the banks, that the banks deal with it. The whole tracer number is 200689, that’s the date. The 20th of June, 1989. It then, then 480 816 00 2157. But the second series of numbers ending in “816” is the tracer. Which identifies the transaction to which it may be related. I should just say when I say “00816”, that was in error and I was using the shorthand code.
The Celtic Helicopters cheque for £30,000 bears no tracer number. This appears to indicate that the cheque did not go through the clearing-house system for collection in the ordinary way. This appears to be consistent with the information the Tribunal has received from the Bank that it does not seem to have formed part of the £36,000 lodgement to the account on that day, the 20th. Now, there is no tracer either on the face or on the reverse side of the cheque.
Furthermore, the Tribunal has been informed that the Goodman International cheque, in the sum of £25,000, was debited to the account on which it was drawn on the 22nd of June, and that this once again indicates that it went through the normal clearing-house collection process. This is normally a two-day process. As the Celtic Helicopters cheque appears to have been debited to the account to which it was drawn on the 21st of June of 1989, this would appear to be consistent with the fact that it did not go through the normal clearing-house process. As there does not seem to be any other credit to the account on or after the 20th of June, 1989, which might represent the proceeds of that cheque, it appears that the cheque may not have been lodged to the account at all. And I emphasise that is the Leader’s Allowance Account. The question which arises at this stage is as to whether, in the light of the information I have just canvassed, that the cheque for £30,000 was cashed there and then or whether it was lodged to some other account, or whether the proceeds of that cheque were applied in some other way. Mr. Haughey, through his solicitors, has been asked to comment further on this matter, in light of the new material available, but as yet the Tribunal has not received any response from him.
This evidence is material to the Tribunal’s efforts to form a picture of the manner in which the Leader’s Allowance Account was operated. The Tribunal has already indicated in an opening statement made on the 14th of July, 1999, that it wished to examine whether there were any other payments by the Irish Permanent Building Society or by any of its directors to Mr. Haughey; and whether the payments mentioned, including the sum of £20,000 described as being for “B Lenihan” was used for the purpose envisaged, or for some other purpose. Although more information has now come to hand to enable the Tribunal to form a clearer picture of what may have happened to this £20,000 cheque the questions raised in the course of the Tribunal’s last public sittings are still pertinent. The Tribunal will wish, therefore, to continue to examine the account and its connection with other accounts with which Mr. Haughey was associated; such as the Celtic Helicopters Account and the Amiens Account. The contents of the statement made by Mr. Charles Haughey were drawn to the attention of Mr. John Barnicle and Mr. Ciaran Haughey. Mr. Barnicle has indicated that he does not wish to revise or qualify or make any alteration to the evidence he has already given to the Tribunal that the £30,000 lodged to Celtic Helicopters and the subsequent payment of £30,000 by Celtic Helicopters to Charles Haughey could only have been the making of a prepayment for helicopter flying hours followed by a cancellation of that prepayment. Mr. Ciaran Haughey has said that he is still of the view that this is the only possible explanation for the movement. This evidence already given will nevertheless have to be re-examined in the light of the further material which has now come to hand.
The Tribunal’s continued examination of the Leader’s Allowance Account has resulted in a number of inquiries being directed to Irish Life and Permanent concerning payments to the Irish Permanent Building Society during the period covered by the Tribunal’s Terms of Reference. From information made available it would appear that at least three further payments by the Irish Permanent Building Society to Mr. Charles Haughey merit examination in the course of the Tribunal’s public sittings. As My Friend points out, it would be more accurate to say three further cheques.
I now wish to deal with Further Payments By Irish Permanent Building Society.
The first two of these payments was made in 1986. In that year, cheques totalling £100,000 in all drawn on the Irish Permanent Building Society’s bank account appear to have been lodged to the Leader’s Allowance. The first of these payments was made by way of a cheque dated the 19th of March, 1986. This cheque, payable to “Fianna Fail”, was for the sum of £50,000 and was signed by Dr. Edmund Farrell and Mr. JG Treacey, both Director’s of the then Irish Permanent Building Society. The cheque was endorsed on the reverse side as follows:
“Fianna Fail, Charles Haughey”.
The cheque stub describes the cheque as being “Fianna Fail sub £50,000”. This cheque, from the brand stamped on the face of it, appears to have been presented at Allied Irish Bank, Lower Baggot Street, on the 7th of April of 1986. The bank statement shows that on that day a lodgement of £50,000 was credited to the account and this cheque payment, therefore, appears to correspond with the £50,000 lodgement. On the 7th of April there was a lodgement to the account which is, of course, in the name of Haughey Ahern McSharry, I keep referring to it as the Leader’s Allowance Account. It was for £50,000.
The second payment in that year was made by way of a cheque payable to Fianna Fail in the sum of £50,000 and is dated the 17th of October of 1986. The cheque was signed by Dr. Edmund A Farrell and Mr. JG Treacey. From the stamp it would appear that the cheque was presented at Allied Irish Banks, Baggot Street on the 22nd of October, 1986, and the Leader’s Allowance bank statement for that month indicates that a lodgement of that amount was credited to the account on that day and it would appear, once again, that this lodgement corresponds with the £50,000 from the Irish Permanent Building Society. And that shows a lodgement on the 22nd of October, 1986.
The Irish Permanent Building Society cheque was endorsed on the reverse side as follows:
“For Fianna Fail, CJ Haughey”.
The notation on the cheque stub is as follows:
“Fianna Fail sub, 17th of October 1986, £50,000”.
Apart from the cheque stub and the company’s cheque analysis book, there would appear to be no other records retained by the Irish Permanent Building Society of either of these payments.
The payments were brought to the attention of Dr. Farrell and Mr. Treacey, and the Society or Irish Life and Permanent as they are now. Dr. Farrell confirms his signature on the cheques. He has also informed the Tribunal that any information he has concerning the cheques is based on his memory and documents furnished to him by the Tribunal. And he has informed the Tribunal once again that his response is based on memory and on these documents, in the absence of the Irish Permanent Building Society file on political donations which he referred to previously in his evidence. He has, however, stated that he did not recall receiving a direct approach for either of these cheques as political donations for Fianna Fail, but believes that as was usual at the time, both cheques were paid as a result of an application from Fianna Fail for a political donation or political donations. Mr. Treacey, in his statement to the Tribunal, confirms his signature on the cheques but has indicated that he is not aware of the identity of the person from whom the request for the cheques came and has further stated that his only function was to countersign the cheques after Dr. Edmund Farrell had first signed them.
The Tribunal sought the assistance of the Fianna Fail Party concerning these cheque payments and has been informed by Party Head Office that the Fianna Fail Party did not issue any appeal for funds at the time of any of these payments; that it has no information in relation to the cheques; that there is no record of the Fianna Fail Head Office having received either of the cheques; and that Fianna Fail did not issue a receipt in respect of either of these cheques. It may not be surprising that there was no appeal for funds from Fianna Fail in that there was no election in that year. These cheque payments, therefore, and the purposes to which funds in the Leader’s Allowance Account in that year were applied are relevant to the Tribunal’s terms of reference, Term of Reference B, and it is a question as to whether these funds were applied for the purposes for which, to judge from the cheque stubs they appear to have been given, or whether they were applied for some other purpose.
The third payment, or cheque, from Irish Permanent Building Society was one for £40,000, dated the 16th of August of 1991, and again made payable to Fianna Fail. The cheque is signed by Dr. Edmund Farrell and Mr. Roy Douglas. The cheque was endorsed on the reverse side as follows:
The cheque stub indicates that it was a “Fianna Fail sub” in the sum of £40,000. Dr. Edmund Farrell has informed the Tribunal that he has no specific recollection of the cheque but confirms his signature on it, together with what he believes to be the signature of Mr. Douglas. He cannot recall receiving any direct approach in relation to the cheque but believes that it was made payable to Fianna Fail as a result of a letter of application from that party. He draws the attention of the Tribunal to the fact that in the long form report prepared in advance of the societies conversion to a PLC, the payment was described as having been made as “a contribution to local election funds”. Dr. Farrell believes that it was correctly so described and the cheques analysis book of the Irish Permanent Building Society does record the payment, along with the payments of, along with payments to two other political parties for that year, and the two other political parties were the Progressive Democrats and the Labour Party, and the payments were made around the same time and that there were Local Government Elections at that time.
Mr. Sean Fleming, TD, on behalf of the Fianna Fail Party has informed the Tribunal that while there was an appeal by the Fianna Fail Party for funds in connection with the Local Government Elections in June of that year, there is no record of the Fianna Fail Party having received this cheque for £40,000. Nor did the party issue any receipt in respect of such a cheque to the Irish Permanent Building Society, or to anybody else.
The cheque in question, that is the £40,000 cheque, is stamped as having been presented at Allied Irish Bank, Baggot Street branch on the 2nd of September, 1991. The bank statement of the Leader’s Allowance Account for the relevant month records a lodgement on that date of £50,263.25. While this is in excess of the amount of the cheque, an examination of the statement for the relevant year shows that in or around that time regular installments of the Leader’s Allowance payable out of central funds were credited to the account at regular intervals in uniform amounts of £10,263.25 and it would appear therefore that this lodgement of £50,263.25 comprised the £40,000 cheque payment together with a lodgement of an installment of the Leader’s Allowance payable out of central funds.
From the Tribunal’s point of view the same questions arise in relation to this £40,000 payment to the account as has already been canvassed in relation to the two £50,000 payments which I have already mentioned.
I now turn to Debits to the Leader’s Allowance Account.
I now propose to pass on to a number of debits from the Leader’s Allowance Account which have come to the attention of the Tribunal and which merit further examination in the context of the Tribunal’s Terms of Reference, in particular Terms of Reference B and C. Attention has already been drawn to the debits to the Leader’s Allowance Account which appear to correspond to credits to the account under the control of, or with which Mr. Haughey was associated. I have mentioned this in the context of evidence already given of the lodgement of a cheque for £25,000 drawn on the Leader’s Allowance Account to an account in Guinness & Mahon, in the name of Amiens Securities Limited, controlled by the late J Desmond Traynor. That is the cheque of which evidence was given on the previous sittings of the Tribunal. And in which, Mr. Ahern, the Taoiseach, gave evidence of signing in blank form. Evidence has already been given concerning debits to the Leader’s Allowance Account which correspond to or match the credits to the bill paying service operated by Deloitte and Touche on behalf of Mr. Haughey. Further reference will be made to these transactions at a later stage in the Tribunal’s resumed sittings. At this point I intend to refer to the debits to the account in connection with payments made to discharge the medical expenses of the late Mr. Brian Lenihan. This will be dealt with extensively in the course of the evidence in order to establish how much of the monies in the account attributable to sources other than the installments of the Leader’s Allowance payable out of central funds were used to discharge these expenses.
This exercise is necessary, in view of the fact that there is very little apart from the bank statements, by way of records of the Leader’s Allowance Account available to the Tribunal. (And even where bank statements were available they were only available in limited form). Evidence has already been given by Miss Eileen Foy concerning the records, which although kept, and as far as the Tribunal and anybody associated with the account can judge, kept meticulously are not available. Nor does it appear that there are any accounts available of the amount of the monies contributed to defray the medical expenses of the late Mr. Brian Lenihan.
In endeavoring to ascertain the amount of monies contributed for this purpose the Tribunal has borne in mind that the discrepancy between the ordinary installments of the Leader’s Allowance for the year 1989, and the total amount of the lodgements to the Leader’s Allowance is in or around £220,000.
Dealing now with the Debits of the Leader’s Allowance Account in Connection with Mr. Lenihan’s, the Late Mr. Lenihan’s Medical Expenses.
The Tribunal has been informed by Mr. Padraic MacKernan, Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs, that in 1989 arrangements were made between the Department of Foreign Affairs, (of which the late Mr. Lenihan was then Minister), and the Taoiseach’s office, for the transmission and payment of invoices from the Mayo Clinic through the Irish Embassy in Washington. Invoices were issued by the Mayo Clinic addressed to Mr. MacKernan, who was then the Irish Ambassador to Washington, and were forwarded through the Department of Foreign Affairs to the Taoiseach’s Office. US dollar cheques were provided by the Taoiseach’s Office and were transmitted back through the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy in Washington to the Mayo Clinic. The function of the Department appears to have been of facilitator in the reception and transmission of invoices and payments.
In total, it appears that a sum of $82,376.70 was paid through the Department of Foreign Affairs to the Mayo Clinic in respect of the late Mr. Lenihan’s treatment, and that these payments were made between June 1989 and June 1990. The payments were made by US dollar international cheques drawn on Allied Irish Banks, One Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2. The details of the payments were as follows:
On the 22nd of June, 1989: US dollars $7,840.80. It appears from an examination of the statement of the account number, 30208062 being the account held in the name of Mr. Haughey, Mr. Ahern and Mr. McSharry at the Lower Baggot Street branch of AIB, that there was a debit to the account on the 22nd of June, 1989, of £5,758.95 which appears to match the US dollar cheque.
On the 20th of July, 1989: $65,923.29, a draft for that amount was issued or claimed from Allied Irish Bank at Baggot Street, Dublin 2. And there appears to be a debit to the AIB account, that is the Leader’s Allowance Account, on the same date of £47,090.56 and this also appears to match the US dollar draft or cheque.
On the 21st of September of 1989 there was a US dollar draft drawn or issued by Allied Irish Banks, Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2 for the sum of $1,409.60. There also appears to be a debit to the account on this date of £1,029.91 which appears to match the amount of the US dollar draft.
On the 7th of December 1989, there is another US dollar draft made payable to the Mayo Clinic and it is for $324.01. There does not appear to be any debit to the Leader’s Allowance Account on this date which matches the amount of this cheque, or this draft.
And on the 7th of March 1990. There is another US dollar draft purchased at Allied Irish Banks, Lower Baggot Street, and it is in the sum of $6,810 and there is a debit to the Leader’s Allowance Account on the same date of £5,727.23 which appears to match the amount for the purpose of that draft.
On the 29th of June, 1990, there is a US dollar draft purchased at that branch and it is in the sum of $79 and there does not appear to be any debit to the Leader’s Allowance Account on this date which matches the amount which was used to purchase this draft.
From an examination of the accounts it would appear that the total withdrawals to the AIB Leader’s Allowance Account which appears to have funded these US dollar drafts payable to the Mayo Clinic amounted to £59,606,65.
It appears that two further US dollar payments were made through the Department of Foreign Affairs in respect of travelling and accommodation costs incurred when Mr. Lenihan returned to the Mayo Clinic for review in early January 1990 and the details of these payments are as follows:
On the 7th of March, 1990: $1,885.60.
And again on the 7th of March, 1990: $235.75. There are no debits to the Leader’s Allowance Account which appear to match the dates and amounts used to purchase these particular cheques.
The Tribunal has further been informed by Mr. Padraic MacKernan that three Irish pound payments were made to the Department between July 1989 and December 1989 as refunds of expenses incurred in connection with the late Mr. Lenihan’s treatment. The details of these three payments are as follows:
(1) £2,489.90 which was lodged to the Department account on the 25th of July, 1989. The Department has not been able to obtain a copy of the cheque provided from the Central Bank microfiche records and there does not appear to be any debit to the AIB Leader’s Allowance Account corresponding to the date or the amount of this payment.
(2) £4,933.59. Which was lodged to the Department Account on the 27th of September, 1989. The Department has produced to the Tribunal from Central Bank microfiche records, a copy of this cheque, which was in the sum of £4,933.59 payable to the Department of Foreign Affairs and drawn on Allied Irish Bank, One Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2, account of Haughey, Ahern and McSharry. This cheque is shown as a debit on the account statement on the 29th of September, 1989.
The third payment to the Department is in the sum of £5,073.53 which was lodged to the Department account on the 18th of December, 1989. The Department has also produced a copy of this cheque which was dated the 14th of September, 1989, in the sum of £5,073.53 payable to the Department of Finance, which was also drawn on Allied Irish Bank, One Lower Baggot Street, account of Haughey, Ahern and McSharry. This cheque is shown as debited to the account on the 28th of December, 1989.
The Tribunal has been informed that when the late Mr. Lenihan returned to the Mayo Clinic in January of 1990, his travelling expenses, amounting to £12,914.50 were paid by the Department of Defence. The late Mr. Lenihan was then Minister for Defence. This sum was reimbursed to the Department of Defence by the Taoiseach’s office in February 1991 and is shown as a credit in the Department of Defence’s Receivable Order Book on the 15th of February 1991. This payment appears to match a debit to the AIB Leader’s Allowance Account on the 13th of February of 1991. This debit represents the proceeds of a cheque dated the 12th of February, 1991, payable to Allied Irish Banks which was referred to in the evidence of Miss Eileen Foy given in the course of the Tribunal’s public sittings last July. It appears from information provided by Allied Irish Bank that the proceeds of this cheque may have been applied to fund the bank draft in that sum.
It appears therefore, that the total funds withdrawn from the AIB Leader’s Allowance Account and applied to defray expenses incurred in connection by the late Mr. Lenihan’s treatment, were £82,528.27 made up of the following withdrawals:
1. £59,606.65 to fund the US dollar international cheque payable to the Mayo Clinic.
2. £4,933.59 paid to the Department of Foreign Affairs on the 27th of September, 1989.
3. £5,073.53 paid to the Department of Foreign Affairs on the 18th of December, 1989.
4. £12,914.50 paid to the Department of Defence on the 15th of February, 1991.
As mentioned already, the discrepancy between the ordinary installments of the Leader’s Allowance paid out of central funds and the lodgements to the account in 1989 was in or around £220,000. As the total sum which appears to have been debited to the account for the benefit of the late Mr. Lenihan was £82,528.27 of which £12,914.50 was not debited until February, 1991. The Tribunal will wish to inquire into the extent of the monies raised and lodged to the account which were intended to benefit the late Mr. Lenihan, and if these were in excess of the sum actually expended, the purpose or purposes for which the additional funds, if any, were applied?
In this regard, it will be recalled that the Tribunal has already heard evidence in relation to a cheque drawn on the account for £25,000 dated the 16th of June, 1989, which have appeared, which appears to have been lodged to the Amiens Securities Limited account in Guinness & Mahon, an account under the control of the late Mr. J Desmond Traynor, which I have already mentioned.
Apart from the US dollar payments to the Mayo Clinic referred to above, and which were made by cheques provided by the Taoiseach’s office to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Tribunal has also been informed by the Department of Foreign Affairs, that a further invoice was raised by the Mayo Clinic, but that the Department’s records do not include any reference to the payment of this invoice.
The invoice was dated the 6th of July, 1989, and was in the sum of $81,602.74. The Tribunal has been informed by the Voluntary Health Insurance Board that this invoice was discharged by the VHI on foot of a special claims appeal on behalf of the late Mr. Lenihan. It appears from the bank records available to the Board that the payment to the Mayo Clinic by VHI was made by bank draft and it appears that the funds to meet this payment, which were £57,247.49 were debited to the VHI account on the 1st of August, 1989.
The Board has been unable to locate the file relating to the late Mr. Lenihan’s special claims appeal. The Board has identified from its microfiche record copies of the claims files for Mr. Lenihan for the years 1989 and 1990, but these do not include documents relating to the special grant paid by the VHI in respect of Mr. Lenihan’s treatment in the Mayo Clinic. This suggests that the claim for a special grant was properly made in the instance to the general manager of the Board rather than through the claims section.
The Tribunal has been informed that special claims appeals are cases which involve an element of ex gratia payment and therefore must receive the approval of the board of the VHI. In the case of the late Mr. Lenihan, the ex gratia element was caused by the fact that the operation took place outside Ireland and the appeal was to meet the costs of his treatment in the Mayo Clinic. The VHI has produced copies of the minutes of the meeting of the board of the 18th of May of 1989. It appears from the minutes that the directors present were Mr. D Cashell, Chairman. Dr. B Alton, Mr. HB Dennis, Mr. N Fox, and Mr. Brendan Hayes. Mr. TR Ryan and Mr. AF Mitchell were also in attendance. The minutes were signed by the Chairman on the 28th of July of 1989.
Paragraph 3.4 of the minutes record as follows: “The following special claims appeals were agreed: Mr. B Lenihan (and membership number given), taking into account the circumstances of the case and previous grants to other subscribers in similar circumstances, it was agreed in principle that a significant contribution should be made”. There does not appear to be any reference in the minutes to the quantum of the payment approved by the board.
Mr. Noel Fox, who has provided a statement, has informed the Tribunal that he has a vague recollection that a figure of £50,000 was mentioned at a board meeting and that in his experience special claims would not be approved by the board without discussing the quantum.
Mr. Brian Denis who has provided a memorandum of evidence has informed the Tribunal that he is certain that the quantum of the payment was discussed at the board but he can not recall the amount or amounts discussed.
Mr. Des Cashell who has also provided a memorandum of evidence, has informed the Tribunal that the board had a short discussion of the appeal and agreed that as the treatment of the late Mr. Lenihan was not available in Ireland, the cost of the actual operation at the Mayo Clinic would be borne, which the board – and he believes that the board were advised that this would be in the region of £50,000.
I now wish to deal with some Additional Material Debits.
I turn to deal with these debits to the account which appear to be material to the Tribunal’s inquiries. These debits are of two kinds. Firstly, there are two debits in connection with the purchase of international cheques; sorry, I beg your pardon, there are two other debits in connection with the purpose of international cheques and secondly, two debits in connection with payments made to a member of the Fianna Fail Parliamentary Party in connection with certain financial difficulties in which that party member found himself.
The first two debits are the result of two cheques drawn in 1991. The first of these cheques is dated the fourth of February of 1991 drawn on the Leader’s Allowance Account in the sum of £8,332.32. This cheque was payable to AIB. Evidence has already been given at the Tribunal’s public sittings by Miss Eileen Foy in relation to this cheque. Although Miss Foy was unable to recall the precise purpose for which this cheque was drawn, she did nevertheless speculate, as it now transpires correctly, that this cheque, being payable to Allied Irish bank was probably drawn in order to purchase a bank draft.
In fact, it would appear that the cheque drawn on the fourth of February of 1991, was used to purchase an international cheque, (which is a form of bank draft), dated the same day and issued by the same branch, drawn on Credit Commercial of France, in Paris, in favour of Charvet, Paris, in the sum of, French Francs 61,605. It appears that Charvet is a firm of Paris shirt makers.
A second cheque dated the 18th of September of 1991 was drawn on the account in the sum of £7,500 payable to cash. It would appear that this was used to purchase a second international cheque, this time dated the 18th of December of 1991, drawn once again on Credit Commercial De France, Paris, and once again in favour of Charvet. This time in the sum of French Francs 63,000.
The Tribunal has been unable to obtain any explanation as to why the Leader’s Allowance Account would have been used, in the normal way to purchase items amounting to in or about £12,000 in value, from a firm such as this.
The second type of payment I mentioned above relates to two debits to the account in December, 1989 and in March, 1990, respectively. These debits appear to have been connected with financial difficulties in which Mr. John Ellis TD, found himself at that time. Mr. Ellis TD for Sligo Leitrim has informed the Tribunal that in 1989 he was in considerable financial difficulty as a result of a failed business venture. He had incurred substantial liabilities with a number of Marts including Manorhamilton Mart. Bankruptcy proceedings were threatened by Manorhamilton Mart. Mr. Ellis has stated to the Tribunal that in December of 1989 he was approached by Mr. Haughey who had become aware of the threatened bankruptcy proceedings and was informed by Mr. Haughey that the Fianna Fail Party would try to rescue him from bankruptcy and that this was important having regard to the size of the government majority in the Dail at that time.
Sorry, I should just say there, when I said that Mr. Haughey had informed Mr. Ellis that they had tried to rescue him – I should have said that “they would try to rescue him”.
The Tribunal has been informed that sometime around the 13th of December of 1989, Mr. Haughey invited Mr. Ellis to his office. That he paid Mr. Ellis a sum of £12,400. That this payment was in cash. That the payment was brought by Mr. Ellis to his solicitors and that his solicitors forwarded the £12,000, either by his own cheque or by draft to the solicitors acting on behalf of Manorhamilton mart.
Unfortunately, this payment did not bring Mr. Ellis’ difficulties to an end and by March of 1990 he was again threatened with bankruptcy by another creditor, Swinford Mart. Mr. Haughey once again volunteered to him that the party would provide him with assistance and sometime around the 22nd of March, 1990, he collected from Mr. Haughey, in Mr. Haughey’s own office, cash in the sum of £13,600 and he brought this to his solicitor and he understands that his solicitor then forwarded this cheque to the solicitors. Sorry, I beg your pardon; that he brought the money to his solicitors and that his solicitors then wrote their own cheque to the solicitors acting on behalf of Swinford Mart.
Mr. Ellis has stated to the Tribunal that at all times it was made clear to him by Mr. Haughey that both payments were made from the Fianna Fail funds and for the benefit of the Fianna Fail Party.
It would appear that each of these payments is reflected by a debit to the Leader’s Allowance Account. It seems that on the 12th of December, 1989, a sum of £12,500 was debited to the account. This debit, it is on the overhead projector and the £12,500, it may not be clear, the one may not be clear but it is there. This debit appears to have been by way of cheque number 500017 and it would appear that the cheque may have been drawn very close to, if not on that day, when it was presented. While the sum of £12,500 debited to the account on that day does not coincide precisely with the sum of £12,400 paid to Mr. Ellis, nevertheless having regard to the date of the payment to Mr. Ellis, the two transactions seem to be related, notwithstanding the slight discrepancy in the amount.
There was another debit to the account on the 22nd of March of 1990. This debit is in the amount of £13,600 which coincides exactly with the amount of the cash payment made to Mr. Ellis. From the Leader’s Allowance bank statement it would appear that cheque number 500050 was drawn on this, for this amount. While this cannot be ascertained with absolute certainty, it would appear that the cheque may have been drawn for each of these amounts and that each of these cheques were cashed on the day they were drawn and that in each case, were for the purpose of providing cash funds for Mr. Ellis.
Mr. Ellis has made it clear to the Tribunal that he was not aware at the time of any possible connection between the funds paid to him and the Leader’s Allowance Account. Nor was he aware that at that time the Leader’s Allowance Account included funds paid out of the Exchequer to the leaders, to that account, together with other funds, including sums of money contributed to defray the medical expenses of the late Mr. Brian Lenihan.
These payments, that is the payments to Mr. Ellis and those to Charvet warrant a re-examination of all cheque payments out of the Leader’s Allowance Account. Each of the payments warrants a re-examination of the procedures adopted during Mr. Haughey’s tenure as Taoiseach and leader of the opposition where the operation of the Leader’s Allowance Account is concerned. Specifically, the Tribunal will need to examine how the signature of a co-signitory was obtained on any one of the four cheques mentioned above without the purpose for which the cheque was being drawn being brought to his attention; and in the case of the Charvet cheques, without the invoices in respect of which the cheques were written being drawn to his attention.
This will also necessarily involve a re-examination of all of the round sum debits to the Leader’s Allowance Account. In view of the fact that there is a very, there is very limited documentation available in relation to the operation of this account, one of the questions which now arises is whether the other round sum debits to the account are represented by payments to cash, and whether in fact those payments resulted in cash withdrawals from the account at Allied Irish Banks.
A further feature of the payments to Mr. John Ellis TD, is that they would appear to come within Terms of Reference C of the Terms of Reference, if Mr. Ellis were to be regarded as a person who holds or has held public office. I should say the Term of Reference C, of course, deals with payments out of accounts referred to in Term of Reference B, to the holders of public office.
And this brings me to the Tribunal’s view that it may be necessary to expand or revise its interpretation of the Terms of Reference.
At the hearings on the 24th of September, 1998 the Tribunal gave an indication of its then current interpretation of the Terms of Reference. The Tribunal indicated that that interpretation of its Terms of Reference might not be final. In the light of a much greater volume of material which has now come to hand and in view of the Tribunal’s continuing obligation to keep the interpretation of its Terms of Reference under review. It seems appropriate that the expression “public office” in Terms of Reference C, should be considered in more detail.
The Tribunal has already indicated that the expression “public office” in relation to Mr. Charles Haughey in Term of Reference A applies to the ministerial offices held by him. In the context of Term of Reference E; the Tribunal has indicated that the reference to the time when Mr. Lowry held public office refers to the time when he held ministerial office. Term of reference C, has arisen so far only in the context of a payment made to Dr. John O’Connell who is a person who held ministerial office. A question which arises in the context of payments to Mr. Ellis is whether they come within Term of Reference C, as a payment made to a person who holds or has held public office as a member of Dail Eireann, but who has not held ministerial office.
At this point I think it sufficient merely to indicate, subject to any submissions made by any person properly entitled to make them, that the expression “public office” in Term of Reference C should embrace a payment made to a person who has held public office as a TD. I am aware, sir, that you do not intend to give any definitive indication of your view until sometime early next week so that any person entitled to make a submission should have an opportunity of doing so.
CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Thank you Mr. Coughlan for those detailed opening remarks and I note in particular the last matter that you alluded to in relation to some, at this juncture, potentially limited degree of further construction of the Terms of Reference in relation to the phrase “public office”.
I note Mr. Clarke, on behalf of the Public Interest is in attendance and it seems to me that perhaps any person who may be interested in being heard in relation to this aspect might please communicate either with the Tribunal legal team or with Miss O’Connell, the Registrar, so that we may be in a position to deal with and finalise this limited further aspect of construction, certainly before the conclusion of next weeks sittings. Will that be feasible perhaps, Mr. Clarke?
MR. CLARKE: Yes, sir. I think I would like to take instructions on that particular issue and it is likely that I would wish to address you on it. Perhaps I might discuss with your legal team some appropriate date next week?
MR. CLARKE: When submissions are to be heard.