THE HEARING RESUMED ON THE 15TH OF OCTOBER, 1999, AS FOLLOWS:
CHAIRMAN: Good morning everyone. Mr. Healy?
MR. HEALY: Yes, Sir. As you know Sir, for practical reasons which couldn’t be overcome, it wasn’t possible to refer to the evidence of the next few witnesses in the Tribunal’s last opening statement which was made, I think, Wednesday the 6th of October.
Now, the main evidence with which the Tribunal will be, will be dealing today, and perhaps over the next day or two, is that of Ms. Eileen Foy, and also to some degree with evidence from a witness associated with the EBS.
Ms. Foy has already given evidence to the Tribunal, and she has been continuing to provide assistance to the Tribunal since she last gave evidence before the summer break. She has now provided further information to the Tribunal concerning the operation of the Leader’s Allowance Account.
It is the intention of the Tribunal to extend its examination of the account in the course of Ms. Foy’s evidence by dealing with a large number of transactions on the account, in addition to dealing with some of the narrative information which has been provided by Ms. Foy.
In order that the relevance of the evidence will be understood, I think it should be put in the context of the matters referred to in the opening statement made last Wednesday and in the context of the overall interest that the Tribunal has in this particular account.
Now, if I could return once again to a cheque which has been mentioned repeatedly in the course of the Tribunal’s sittings. That is the cheque in the sum of £25,000, payable to cash, drawn on the Leader’s Allowance Account and dated the 16th of June of 1989. This cheque, as you will recall, was lodged to an account of Amiens Investments in Guinness & Mahon. It came to the notice of the Tribunal in the course of examining accounts in Guinness & Mahon under the control of the late Mr. Traynor.
The Tribunal was unable to obtain any information or any narrative information from anyone concerning this cheque. And it took the view that, in the circumstances it was appropriate to examine the Leader’s Allowance Account from which the cheque came. The examination of the account was relevant to the Tribunal’s Terms of Reference, Term of Reference B, and also in part to Term of Reference A, and has lead, as you are aware, Sir, to attention being focused on Term of Reference C in the context of evidence given by Mr. Ellis last week.
Term of Reference A is the Term of Reference that deals with payments made in the circumstances described in that subparagraph; Term of Reference B deals, or concerns, accounts in the name of or held for the benefit of Mr. Haughey and other people as described in that Term of Reference. And Term of Reference C applies to payments made to the holders of public office from the various accounts of the kind described in Term of Reference B.
Now, evidence has already been given of what would appear to be payments from the Amiens account. That is the account that was being examined by the Tribunal when can it came across the £25,000 cheque from the Leader’s Allowance. Evidence has been given of what would appear to be payments from that account to the bill paying service operated by a firm of Haughey Boland for Mr. Haughey. That account, therefore, the Amiens account, appeared on the evidence to be one which was operated, at least to the extent of the material that was produced in evidence, for the benefit of Mr. Haughey. Establishing the source of funds in that account and the extent to which that account was used for the benefit of Mr. Haughey is one of the tasks on which the Tribunal is engaged.
Because, as I said, the payment into that Amiens Account included a payment from the Leader’s Allowance Account, then the Leader’s Allowance Account is an account which also fell to be examined, in particular in the context of the question “did it come within the ambit of the Tribunal’s Terms of Reference?” It was an account to which the Tribunal was lead by way of a money trail from the Amiens Account.
It is an account held in the name of Mr. Haughey, and on the face of it, therefore, within Term of Reference B but it is also an account on which a number of transactions were carried out which appear to have been for the benefit of Mr. Haughey.
In addition to the £25,000 transaction which first drew the attention of the Tribunal to the account, the Tribunal has now come across a number of other transactions which merit further examination. Some of those transactions have been mentioned in the evidence to date; for instance, you will recall the evidence given in relation to a lodgment of £50,000 to the account in 1986 by way of a cheque drawn on the Irish Permanent Building Society, followed by a further payment later on in that year of another cheque in the sum of £50,000 drawn on the Irish Permanent Building Society. Each of those payments, amounting in all to £100,000, were made in a year in which there appeared to have been no political activity warranting support by way of political donations.
When the Tribunal came to examine the Leader’s Allowance Account, it became clear that the records of the operation of the account, which appear to have been kept by Ms. Foy, were no longer available. There were no cheque stubs available, no cheque journals available, no ledgers or any other books of account available indicating how this account was operated. It isn’t simply that there were no documents available dealing with how the account was operated, say in the early 1980’s when Mr. Haughey came to power, but there are no documents of any kind dealing with how the account was operated right up to the time that Mr. Haughey left office with the exception, I think, of what I might call a discarded cheque book which was handed over in 1992. There were no invoices available which would have enabled the Tribunal to examine the purposes of debits to the account.
The Tribunal was therefore driven to endeavoring to draw a picture of the account relying on what is effectively archival bank material. It has had to rely on the tedious assembly of bank documents, bank statements, internal bank documentation, much of which is available on microfilm or microfiche only.
What the Tribunal has been dealing with is an account which contains, or which appears to contain mixed funds. It certainly contains funds made available by the Exchequer; that is the Leader’s Allowance funds themselves provided out of public money. It appears to contain the other monies that I have just mentioned a moment ago. I gave examples of payments from the Irish Permanent Building Society which, although made out to Fianna Fail, appear to have ended up in this account. There was another payment of £40,000 also mentioned in the evidence last week which also fetched up in this account, although apparently made out in favour of Fianna Fail.
What the Tribunal has had to do and what it is still trying to do is to disentangle the various sources of funds to this account to try to see how much of this account represents the operation of the account for the purposes for which it was intended; that is to say, for the purposes for which public funds were made available to the account. Those purposes have been described, I think, by Mr. Ahern in the course of a Dail debate as the payment of personnel and the usual supports associated with running a parliamentary political party office.
In the absence of documentation and in the absence of evidence from any person with a comprehensive memory of how the account was operated, the only way open to the Tribunal to try to form a picture of the account is to examine all of the transactions on the account; at least is so far as is practicable to examine those transactions. It is only by examining the transactions on the account, how the account was operated, the manner in which it was operated and by whom it was operated, that the Tribunal can hope to form a picture of the account to see how much of the available funds were used for the contemplated purposes and how much of the funds were used for other purposes, and to see whether those purposes are purposes which would warrant findings to be made by you at the end of the day, Sir.
Now, for the purposes of the evidence to be given by Ms. Foy today, a number of transactions on the account have been drawn to Ms. Foy’s attention. The Tribunal will be referring to 11 cheque payments over and above a number of cheque payments which have already been mentioned in evidence. In the course of its examination of the available material concerning this account, the Tribunal has, to date, unearthed a number of returned cheques drawn on the account in 1990 and in 1991; mainly in 1991. By examining the operation of the account in that year, the Tribunal may be able to form some impression of how the account was operated in other years, but that ultimately will have to await the conclusion of the evidence.
Those 11 cheques included the following: Firstly a cheque Sir, dated the 20th of December 1990, drawn on the account at 1 Lower Baggot Street. Dublin 2, in favour of Adare Manor in the sum of £2,403.40. That is a cheque which was signed by Mr. Haughey and signed by Mr. Ahern. The Tribunal will wish to establish what information there is available from witnesses concerning how the cheque was written; what information there is concerning how the cheque was signed or co-signed; what information the signatory and co-signatory of the cheque had concerning the purpose for which the cheque was being drawn; What recollection has Ms. Foy as the person who operated the account; What recollection has she concerning the purpose for which the cheque was drawn?
The next cheque is a cheque in the sum of £3,183.95. This is dated the 21st of February of 1991, payable to Celtic Helicopters and signed, in the same way. The same queries arise in relation to this cheque, though the Tribunal has obtained some information in that Celtic Helicopters have informed the Tribunal that the cheque was in respect of flying hours.
The next cheque, Sir, is a cheque in the sum of £4,532.81, dated the fourth of April of 1991, payable to Le Coq Hardi. This cheque gives rise to the same questions that I mentioned a moment ago, but, as will become apparent when I come to some of the other cheques, there were a number of cheque payments to that particular restaurant in that year, and a question will arise as to, in the ordinary way, how such a large sum of money came to be written out of the account in favour of one restaurant?
The next cheque is a cheque payable to AIB and from the evidence given to the Tribunal by Ms. Foy in the past concerning cheques payable to AIB, it seems likely, subject to any further light Ms. Foy may be able to throw on the matter, that this was a payment for some form of bank draft or cheque or other payment being made by AIB.
The next cheque, in the sum of £4,106.08 dated the 8th of June, 1991, is again in favour of the restaurant Le Coq Hardi.
The next cheque is a cheque payable to Allied Irish Banks. It may fall within the class of cheques payable to Allied Irish Banks which I mentioned a moment ago, but in addition falls within the class of cheques which has been mentioned in evidence given in earlier sittings, in that it is a round sum cheque. You will recall that evidence was given of a significant number of round sum cheques, some of them in extremely large amounts, in respect of which the Tribunal has to date been unable to obtain any information.
The next cheque is for £2,027.94 on the 26th of September of 1991 is again payable to Le Coq Hardi.
The next cheque is also a cheque payable to Celtic Helicopters, and once again the Tribunal has been informed that this is in respect of flying hours. The question is what the various signatories and co-signatories knew about the cheque and about the purposes for which it was being paid. That is to say. The purposes for which flying hours were being contracted?
The next cheque dated the 29th of October of 1991 is another cheque payment in favour of Le Coq Hardi and, as you will see, in that year alone a considerable sum of money appears to have been paid to that payee. In fact the total comes to £15,084.44. The aggregate of those cheques, I suppose more than any of the individual cheques, is what requires some explanation.
The next cheque is a cheque for £1,000, a cheque again within the class of round sum cheques, this time not payable to AIB, but payable to cash.
The next and last cheque is the final Le Coq Hardi cheque payable in that year and which brings the total of payments to that restaurant to the sum I mentioned a moment ago.
Now, in a supplemental statement to the Tribunal, Ms. Foy has responded to a number of queries addressed to her by the Tribunal concerning items which have arisen in the course of evidence. She has commented on some of that evidence, but in doing so has drawn the attention of the Tribunal to the fact that she is relying largely on her memory in dealing with queries.
She has informed the Tribunal that when the name “Charvet” was drawn to her attention she recognised the cheque payments which were made for the purposes of purchasing international drafts, or international cheques, payable to Charvet. She did not recall, or she had no specific recollection of, the actual transactions involved.
She assumes, however, that they were made on foot of invoices. She has also informed the Tribunal that she has no specific recollection of the invoices and she has, in addition, stated that as the co-signatory of many of these cheques would have presigned the cheques in blank, she would not have brought any of these invoices specifically to his attention. From that I take it she means, though this will have to be pursued in evidence, that if this cheque, made payable to AIB for the purpose of purchasing bank drafts payable to Charvet, was a presigned cheque, then the purpose for which the cheque was being made out would not have been brought to the attention of the co-signatory.
In response to queries concerning the cheque for £30,000 drawn on the account of Celtic Helicopters and dated the 13th of June of 1989, Ms. Foy has informed the Tribunal that she has no recollection of the cheque. She cannot recall how the cheque was dealt with, but accepts that, if the cheque was cashed by her, it would probably have been done at AIB Baggot Street. You will recall, Sir, that evidence was given that this cheque was certainly presented at AIB Baggot Street but that there appears to be no evidence that it was lodged to an account at that bank. The evidence so far appears to be that that cheque was cashed, that is, that cash was obtained for it.
Ms. Foy has also commented on the cheque in the sum of £25,000, drawn on the Goodman International Account and signed by Mr. Goodman, which was mentioned in earlier evidence in the Tribunal. She has stated that she has no specific recollection of dealing with this cheque, but accepts that, as it appears to have been lodged, she is the person who must have lodged it.
She has also commented on the question of the identification of donors to the fund set up to defray Mr. Brian Lenihan’s medical expenses. You will recall, Sir, that evidence was given by Mr. Paul Kavanagh that he obtained a list of those donors from Ms. Foy, together with a list of the amounts of money contributed by those donors. Ms. Foy says that whilst she has no recollection of providing that list, she accepts that if Mr. Kavanagh’s recollection is that he got it, then she must have provided it.
She has no recollection of the Irish Permanent Building Society cheques amounting, as I have already indicated, to £100,000 in 1986 and to a smaller sum of £40,000 in 1991.
Where Mr. Ellis is concerned, Ms. Foy has informed the Tribunal that she was aware of Mr. Ellis’s financial difficulties and the fact that he was threatened with bankruptcy. She says that as she was the person who administered the Leader’s Allowance Account, she assumes that she would have obtained cash and given it to Mr. Haughey, though she would not have had any direct dealings with Mr. Ellis. She also has informed the Tribunal that, assuming that the cheque used to obtain the cash for Mr. Ellis was itself made out to cash, she would have been aware of the purpose and would have recorded this on the cheque stub and in the account ledger.
Of course, Sir, one of the questions that will arise is, if that cheque used to obtain those funds was made out to cash; whether in other words somebody collected cash for those debits?
Ms. Foy has also drawn the Tribunal’s attention to the fact that as she puts it, given Mr. Haughey’s position he regularly received requests for assistance of various kinds. While she would not necessarily have been aware of all of them, if a financial donation was being made, the funds would probably have been paid from the Leader’s Allowance Account.
She gives an example that after the release of the Guildford Four, a number of the ex prisoners visited Mr. Haughey and he arranged for them to be given new suits at a menswear shop in Dublin. This attracted considerable publicity at the time, and she says she thinks it was even mentioned on TV, and so forth.
She says that apart from the payment made to Mr. Ellis, she is not aware of payments having been made specifically to stave off bankruptcy; that is to say, that she is not aware of other payments, but thinks that there would have been others in the nature of small payments. She mentions a payment which was alluded to by Mr. Kavanagh in the course of his evidence – a payment being made through Mr. Tom Kitt to assist with the purchase of a car for a disabled driver. This payment again appears to have come out of the Leader’s Allowance fund.
The other witness who will be giving evidence today is Mr. Tom Green, who is an audit manager of the Educational Building Society. His evidence will be concerned with an item which has already been mentioned in the course of the Tribunal’s sittings. That is a cheque for £10,000 drawn on the account of Celtic Helicopters, Dublin Airport, and made payable to cash. That was the cheque which, as you will recall, Sir, was associated with a payment into the account of a sum of £10,000 by way of a cheque drawn on the Irish Permanent Building Society.
The cheque drawn on the Irish Permanent Building Society was made out to Mr. Haughey and judging from the cheque stubs kept by the Irish Permanent Building Society, appeared to have been by way of a political sub. The cheque was lodged to Celtic Helicopters account and subsequently this cheque was written on the Celtic Helicopter’s account. You will recall that evidence was given by Mr. John Barnicle, with which Mr. Ciaran Haughey, his co-Director in Celtic Helicopters agreed, to the effect that this cheque out of the account could only have been the result of the cancellation of a prepayment or a block prepayment of flying hours. You will recall that evidence was given of two payments into Celtic Helicopters for which this explanation has been proffered by Mr. Barnicle. This is the second such payment.
The cheque drawn on the Celtic Helicopter’s account appears ultimately to have been lodged to an account at the Educational Building Society, an account in the name of Mrs. Maureen Haughey. Mr. Green will give evidence concerning the reception of that sum into the account.
Lastly, Sir, because of the fact that, as I have said at the outset, some material has become available to the Tribunal in circumstances which prevented the Tribunal from disclosing all of it at an early date, it may be necessary to make further short opening statements over the following days or weeks as more material becomes available in a form which will enable it to be lead in public.
CHAIRMAN: Thank you Mr. Healy.