ON APPLICATION BY MR.PAUL GARDINER BL ON BEHALF OF MR.CHARLES HAUGHEY
CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Mr. Gardiner. Whilst there may be applications that arise from time to time during the Tribunal hearings that necessitate my adjourning overnight to consider and rule on the matter, I am satisfied that it is incumbent upon me to rule here and now on Mr. Gardiner’s substantive application.
Whilst I pay some regard to the correspondence exchanged between the parties as mentioned by Mr. Coughlan and to what is stated by Miss Egan in the context of the likely time, sequence and eventual date of any criminal trial that may occur against Mr. Haughey, I must of course rule on this matter on legal principles.
On that basis, even though of course I have been required by the Oireachtas to undertake this inquiry with as much efficiency and expedition as is consistent with the remit contained in the Terms of Reference, nonetheless, I accept from Mr. Gardiner’s argument that those public concerns to expeditiously conclude the inquiry do come second to Mr. Haughey’s constitutional right to a fair trial.
Accordingly, if I were to feel that by starting the inquiry today on the basis proposed that I was doing something that was likely to jeopardize Mr. Haughey’s legal entitlement to a fair trial, it would be incumbent on me to accede to the application.
I am not so satisfied, having regard to all these circumstances. I bear in mind the essential tenure of the Supreme Court judgements in the D and Z cases in which it was stated unequivocally that jurors and a fortiori judges have to be entrusted with greater resilience against media comment and to be trusted to try cases in accordance with admissible evidence only and render a due verdict in accordance with law.
I also pay regard to the nature of the Tribunal’s undertaking whereby it is not seeking to make a case against any person, Mr. Haughey or any other person who may be involved but is simply seeking to discharge its solemn remit to inquire into matters at issue and seek to find facts.
Of course it will require care on the part of the law officers in the due processing of Mr. Haughey’s trial to see that his rights are acceded to and these are matters that obviously are not in my immediate control. I accept that care will have to be given to the dates upon which the trial is fixed, to the business of empanelment of jurors and to the other matters that will necessarily descend upon the prosecution authorities and any eventual Trial Judge who may have to try the matter in issue to ensure that the matter is tried entirely fairly.
What I am not persuaded, having regard to these matters, is that by proceeding with the inquiry today, that that right to a fair trial is likely to be realistically jeopardised. I believe the safeguards that have been referred to by the Supreme Court will be unequivocally inbuilt in any eventual trial and it seems to me, having regard to the desirability of this inquiry proceeding to fruition, that significant things would be required to persuade me that there would be a real risk of jeopardy of a less than fair trial. I am not so persuaded. I accept that care will have to be taken as regards the further stages of criminal process against Mr. Haughey but I am not of the view that by proceeding on the lines that is proposed today, Mr. Haughey is likely to have his constitutional right to fair and just process jeopardised.
As to the remaining matters in Mr. Gardiner’s submission, I similarly do not find grounds that persuade me to accede to the application for an adjournment. Without giving a minute construction of the Tribunal’s Terms of Reference, it does seem to me, from careful reading of those Terms of Reference and from several readings of the content of Mr. Justice McCracken’s report, that the course proposed to be embarked upon today is one that is consistent with the Terms of Reference and does not contravene any basis of fairness, having regard to those Terms of Reference and to what was inquired into and reported upon by Mr. Justice McCracken.
Lastly, Mr. Gardiner takes exception to the view that has been taken by the Tribunal that the hearing should be conducted in a number of discrete sittings, the first of which is scheduled to commence today. It seems to me that one has to have regard to the proliferation of factual issues that have been visited upon the Tribunal by the Terms of Reference and that one must also have considerable regard to the significant recommendatory task that has also been required to be undertaken by the Tribunal. In the context of the proliferation of issues relating to significantly separate aspects of activity, it seems to me realistic and proper that the Tribunal has taken the view that the fairest and most prudent way of proceeding with the delayed sittings in this case is to segment into discrete sittings proposed.
In making this ruling, I am certainly not indicating that I am not going to pay extremely significant regard to ensuring that as regards any concurrent proceedings or procedures that Mr. Haughey’s rights are, as far as I can assure, safeguarded. I would accept that it is not an ideal scenario that the criminal process is taking place at the same time as the commencement of the substantive sittings of the Tribunal but having made that observation and the other remarks that I have made, I am very far from being persuaded that embarking today will jeopardise Mr. Haughey’s paramount right to due process.
Accordingly, I am of the view that the Tribunal must proceed.
Before calling upon Mr. Coughlan, as senior counsel for the Tribunal, to open the matters that may pertain to this initial sitting, I have some brief observations of a preliminary nature to make.
It will be useful to refer briefly to the nature of the inquiry that it is my duty to hold. The first point I should make and it cannot be over-stressed is this is an inquiry. It is not a piece of litigation. It does not involve the making of a case by the Tribunal or its legal team against any person or persons, whether named in the Terms of Reference or not. It will not, therefore, involve adversarial confrontations between the Tribunal or its legal team and any other person who may become involved with the Tribunal’s inquiries.
Insofar as the Tribunal has any cause to promote the cause it wishes and will wish to make is that of an inquisitional examination of persons and documents for the purpose of finding facts or establishing to what extent, if any, facts can be found.
The inquiry will be conducted by me. Whilst I will be substantially advised and guided by the legal team who have undertaken the vast preponderance of preliminary work and investigation in the ultimate, it is I alone who will decide what witnesses will be called and to what matters the evidence of those witnesses will be directed.
It is inevitable in the public inquiry that things said by witnesses in evidence may have an impact on other persons likely to be involved with the Tribunal or on persons having no involvement with the Tribunal. What is said may affect a person’s good name or a person’s other vital interests. The Tribunal will take every practicable step to ensure that a person’s good name or other vital interests are not needlessly affected by evidence given at the Tribunal. However, where a person’s good name or other vital interests are affected or are likely to be affected, then any such person will be afforded an opportunity of protecting his or her good name or other interests. Any such person will, of course, be given an opportunity of being represented. In the defence of those interests and in the defence of reputation and good name, he or she will be given an opportunity, where this is necessary, to defend such interests or good name by cross-examining witnesses. That is not to say that other procedural safeguards will not also have to be deployed to ensure fairness to witnesses and other persons connected with the Tribunal sittings. For example, experience in other tribunals has shown that it may sometimes become necessary either to adjourn part of the Tribunal’s public sittings or to postpone part of the evidence of a witness so as to enable a person likely to be criticised or who has been criticised to instruct counsel or to assemble documentation so as to either bring information to the attention of the Tribunal or to enable him or her to cross-examine on the material in question.
Where a cross-examination is permitted to be conducted otherwise than by counsel for the Tribunal, in the interests of defending the good name or other vital interests of another person, then it will be limited only to eliciting matters that may affect a person whose good name or other vital interests are involved.
In the ordinary way where a witness is called, he or she will first be examined by counsel for the Tribunal from any statement given or from any memorandum of information given to the Tribunal. Where a witness has completed evidence in accordance with any statement made or any memorandum of information provided to the Tribunal, he or she may be further examined by counsel for the Tribunal with a view to eliciting further information relevant to the Tribunal’s Terms of Reference.
Whilst I anticipate that certain procedural matters will be dealt with somewhat more fully in the opening remarks of counsel for the Tribunal, it would in general be my clear preference that any necessary matter of legal argument or application be made at the start or end of any sitting day. This is to facilitate reasonable and fair continuity in the evidence of witnesses and it would again be preferable if such matters could, where possible, be communicated in the first instance to the Tribunal’s legal advisors.
At this point, the Tribunal has carried out an enormous amount of preliminary examination of material and conducted a significant number of informal interviews with persons likely to be able to assist it. It has reached a point where it has identified a number of topics and in relation to those topics, has so far as this has proved practicable, excluded any material irrelevant to its Terms of Reference.
It has now identified a number of areas in which its inquiry should be pursued in public. Where any person represented at the Tribunal or any other person affected by evidence given at the Tribunal wishes to direct the attention of the Tribunal to any particular material for the purpose of having questions put to a witness, then the matter should be taken up with counsel for the Tribunal and, if necessary, a list of questions can be furnished to counsel for the Tribunal or statements furnished to counsel for the Tribunal.
Whether any such statements are put to a witness or whether any questions are put to a witness is a matter which will be determined by me in the circumstances of each instance and in exercising my judgment as to whether to allow any such question to be put or statements to be taken into consideration, I will concern myself solely with whether any such information is likely to advance the inquiry I have been directed to carry out.
In these sittings, the Tribunal will deal with a number of items to which reference will be made later on by counsel for the Tribunal. What the Tribunal has done is to group into a manageable section or series of sections a number of related items from the substantial volume of material that it has examined.
However, members of the public and the press should bear in mind the danger of drawing conclusions from any of the evidence given at these sittings until such time as all of the evidence of all of the sittings has been heard and the Tribunal has found any facts or reached any conclusions. And I pay particular emphasis to that injunction in the context of the matters that have been laid before me in Mr. Gardiner’s application earlier this morning.
Ultimately, the drawing of conclusions and the finding of facts is a matter for me. In finding those facts, I will consider only the material introduced in evidence at the public sittings of the Tribunal. The weight to be afforded to the material produced in evidence is also a matter for me. In fulfilling that function, I am obliged to bear in mind, on the one hand, the duty of the Tribunal to find facts and, on the other hand, to ensure fairness to witnesses.
One of the features of the material to which reference will be made by counsel for the Tribunal in his opening is the involvement of certain persons who are now deceased. I intend to keep in mind that deceased persons will not be able to answer personally criticisms that may be made of them either explicitly or implicitly in the course of evidence given to Tribunal. Members of the press and the public should likewise bear in mind the particular vulnerability of deceased persons where the temptation to draw conclusions is concerned.
Lastly, I wish to emphasise that as this is a public hearing, then while, of course, it is important to bear in mind the warnings I have just given, nevertheless in my public hearing, the role of the press must be acknowledged as being a significant and valuable one. The dangers involved in certain types of press reporting have been alluded to in an editorial in one of the national newspapers in recent times but, on the whole, I should say that the reporting of the actual proceedings of the Tribunal to date has been very responsible. In order to assist the press and other interested persons, the Tribunal has opened a web site. This web site will provide a certain, admittedly limited access to information, both from the point of view of the press and members of the public. At this stage, what is envisaged is that these opening remarks I have made and the opening remarks I propose to invite counsel for the Tribunal to make, will be recorded on the web site at some time later today. During the course of the inquiry, other rulings and any statements similar to the one I am now making or propose to invite counsel to make in a moment, will be put up on the web site.
This, I anticipate, will also apply to earlier interim rulings made by me in relation to the Tribunal’s Terms of Reference. It would not be possible to devote the huge amount of time that would be required to put transcripts of the Tribunal’s daily proceedings on the web site however, desirable this might be, because the transcript would have to be checked daily by counsel for the Tribunal, it would prove an unacceptable diversion of the Tribunal’s very limited personal resources.
Lastly, by way of sitting arrangements, I would propose hours of 10:30 until 12:30, then 1:45 until 4 o’clock on each sitting day, which may be in ease of persons attending the Tribunal regularly, being able to avoid the worst of the lunch time rush hour. For this phase at least, we shall sit on Tuesdays to Fridays, inclusive from today, the exclusion of Mondays being to enable the Tribunal to continue and finalise the very considerable amount of investigative work essential to further phases of the sittings.
At this stage, might I invite Mr. John Coughlan, senior counsel for the Tribunal, to please make any opening remarks he considers appropriate to this stage of the Tribunal’s first public sitting.
OF MR. JOHN COUGHLAN SC
MR. COUGHLAN: May it please you, Sir. The first thing I would like to say is that you have invited me to make an opening statement and have asked me to bring to the attention of the public the basis upon which this is done. The Royal Commission on Tribunals of Inquiry commonly known as the Salmon Commission, reported in November, 1966 on The Tribunal of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921. It recommended retention of the Act and made many recommendations in respect of the Act and the procedures to be adopted under it.
The Salmon Report has been considered by courts and tribunals in Ireland and England since that date and its recommendations have been adopted with significant modification both here and there. Nonetheless, the report is considered an authoritative and persuasive document by judges and lawyers in both jurisdictions.
The Salmon Commission considered that it should be left to the tribunal in every case to decide whether or not an opening statement should be made by counsel appearing for it. The Commission conceived of cases in which it would be most desirable that such a statement should be made and others in which it should not.
The Salmon Commission specifically stated “In its discretion the Tribunal will direct whether or not counsel instructed on its behalf should make an opening statement indicating the progress which has been made in the investigation before the evidence is heard.” The commission also stated: “Provided a sufficient time has been given for the inquiry, an opening statement by counsel for the Tribunal is usually helpful as it is otherwise difficult for persons who have been granted representation and members of the public to understand the line of inquiry which is being followed. An opening statement will also assist the press in reporting the proceedings.”
The Commission stated that the statement should be an impartial summary of the investigation and avoid any comment likely to make sensational headlines. It should be emphasized that until the evidence has been heard, it would be wrong to draw any conclusion.
And I again in making this opening statement, Sir, to the Tribunal, emphasise once again as you have already done, that in exercising your discretion in the context of this Tribunal, you have directed me as counsel instructed on your behalf to make an opening statement indicating the progress which has been made in the investigation before the evidence is heard. You have also, Sir, directed me to state the following;
1: Because this Tribunal will sit in discrete phases to inquire into different matters, at the commencement of each and discrete public phase, an outline statement will be made by counsel instructed on your behalf indicating the progress which has been made in the investigation before the evidence is heard in each phase.
2: In each discrete public phase of the Tribunal’s inquiry, it may be necessary for counsel instructed on your behalf to make a further outline statement and where practicable, this will be done. This is because the investigative work of the Tribunal will continue during the course of public hearings and because the inquiry may take a fresh turn at any moment. In every case the Tribunal will endeavour to indicate the direction its line of inquiry is taking.
I would now like to deal with the work which has been carried out by the Tribunal in private in general terms.
The work of the Tribunal in private commenced on the 21st October, 1997. The Tribunal held its first public sitting on the 31st October, 1997 to explain briefly the manner in which it intended to approach its work. It also sat to hear applications for representation by various persons. When the private phase of the Tribunal’s work commenced, the information available to the Tribunal at that time was limited to the following:
Terms of Reference of the Tribunal itself; the report of the Tribunal of Inquiry (Dunnes Payments) now commonly referred to as the McCracken Report; transcripts of evidence given in the course of the public sittings of the Tribunal of Inquiry (Dunnes Payments); documents admitted in evidence in the course of the public sittings of that Tribunal, and the report of the Dail debate regarding the Terms of Reference of your Tribunal.
The purpose of the work in private was twofold; firstly, it was to assemble material relevant to the Terms of Reference which was appropriate to be led in evidence in the public sittings.
Secondly, it was to exclude material not relevant to the Terms of Reference and which if led in public might be damaging to persons unconnected with the Terms of Reference. The following categories of inquiries were pursued:
Letters were sent to all persons who are members of the Oireachtas to request them to assist with any information, if available, relevant to the Terms of Reference.
Inquiries were made of all banks operating within the State to ascertain the existence of accounts material to the Terms of Reference, that is, accounts of persons mentioned in the Terms of Reference and of persons or companies connected to them within the meaning of the Ethics in Public Office Act and of persons who may have held accounts for their benefit.
Where appropriate, orders for discovery and/or production were made and some 29 orders were made prior to Christmas of 1997. Inquiries were made of banks in which the Tribunal of inquiry (Dunnes Payments) found that amalgamated accounts were held by offshore institutions and recorded in memorandum accounts within the jurisdiction. Inquiries were also made of persons who were associated with the operation of those accounts. Orders were made for discovery and production of certain documents relating to those accounts to enable the Tribunal to conduct an examination of the manner in which the accounts were operated and to identify, if possible, the memorandum account holders with a view to ascertaining a) whether the funds were held on for the benefit of persons holding a ministerial office and b) whether the memorandum accounts holders were a source of moneies to persons holding ministerial offices.
Inquiries were made directly of government departments and state agencies and in certain instances where orders were made for discovery and production of documents. Inquiries were made on foot of information which was brought to the attention of the Tribunal as being information which might be material to its Terms of Reference. Much of this work was initiated in November and December, 1997 and documents began to be produced to the Tribunal at the end of November and throughout December, 1997. Proceedings were issued against the Tribunal by Mr. Haughey and members of his family on the 18th December, 1997. There were the following court hearings:
On the 12th, 16th and 20th January, 1998, the plaintiff’s Motion for Discovery in the High Court; on the 29th January 1998, hearing of the plaintiff’s appeal against the decision of the High Court in respect of that matter; between the 24th March, 1998 and the 1st April, 1998, the hearing of the action in the High Court; on the 28th April, 1998, the High Court judgment was delivered; between the 23rd June, 1998 and the 1st July of 1998, the hearing of the plaintiff’s appeal in the Supreme Court; on the 28th July, 1998, the Supreme Court judgment was delivered and that judgment ordered that certain orders of the Tribunal should be quashed.
The work done by the Tribunal between the months of January and July 1998:
By the end of July, 1998, the following is an approximate indication of the volume of work undertaken by the Tribunal which was carried out in tandem with the proceedings. 41 orders were made. 375 leverarch files of bank related documents had been produced. They had all been scrutinized and analysed with a view to identifying material accounts and ascertaining the source of the funds to those accounts.
In excess of 250 persons have been identified as persons who might be of assistance to the Tribunal. Inquiries had been made and private meetings held with a large portion of those persons.
As a result of the judgment of the Supreme Court, the consequences for the Tribunal were threefold.
Firstly, all documents produced to the Tribunal on foot of the quashed orders were returned. All the documents were returned within two days and this exercise was completed by the close of business on Thursday, 30th July, 1998.
Secondly, documents were also returned which were produced to the Tribunal on foot of orders which were not quashed. The Tribunal took the view that as the Supreme Court had held that all persons who might be affected by orders of the Tribunal should be put on notice, documents produced to the Tribunal on foot of other orders should be returned unless those persons consented to their retention. The Tribunal wrote to upwards of 200 persons to ascertain whether they consented and in the absence of consent, the documents were returned.
The third consequence was that all inquiries made by the Tribunal, information generated, information furnished and other documents produced to the Tribunal on foot of orders or voluntarily, by reference to documents returned on foot of quashed orders or where consent had not been furnished, were ignored by the Tribunal.
This necessitated a very considerable administrative task and included correspondence with all persons with whom the Tribunal had contact to advise them that the Tribunal’s inquiries should be ignored. The information which was ignored included much of the tracing work which the Tribunal had undertaken in tandem with the litigation.
In total, the Tribunal returned 211 leverarch files of documents in whole and 21 leverarch files in part. In light of the Supreme Court judgment, the Tribunal set about its work as follows:
On the 24th September, 1998, the Tribunal held a public sitting for the following purposes. Firstly, to furnish its views as to its interpretation of the Terms of Reference. Secondly, to indicate the procedure which it intended to adopt in the preliminary investigative stage of its work and in particular in connection with the production of documents which it wished to examine. In accordance with that procedure, the Tribunal set about securing the documents which appeared to be material to its Terms of Reference. This was done by seeking the consent of the persons to whom the documents related. In the absence of consent, notice of the intention of the Tribunal to make an order was given to persons to whom the documents related, the persons who held the documents and persons who might be affected by such an order. Allowance was given to all persons in terms of time to enable them to make submissions or representations to the Tribunal, either in writing or orally in private. In the case of certain orders, notice had be to be served on very many persons. In order to identify those persons, the Tribunal held two further public sittings from which the public were excluded and those were held on the 5th November, 1998 and the 9th December, 1998. In all, the Tribunal has made 54 orders since the 3rd November, 1998 and it has received a considerable number of consents from persons whose accounts were sought, authorising banks to produce documents voluntarily.
On the documents being assembled, the Tribunal commenced the work of analysing and inquiring into the accounts afresh. In all, the Tribunal has assembled a further 144 leverarch files of documents. During this time, the work of the Tribunal in scrutinising documents, making inquiries and holding meetings with regard to information provided to it or decovered on foot of orders continued.
Further inquiries were also made with government departments and government agencies regarding material which might be relevant to the Tribunal’s Terms of Reference. This work included the making of one further order which resulted in the production of 132 files, the scrutiny of those files and the holding of further meetings.
That, Sir, is a broad outline of the work which the Tribunal has been doing since it commenced its private phase. I now turn to deal with matters which you have directed me to make an opening statement in relation to in this public phase.
At this public sitting, which will take some short time, the Tribunal intends to deal with a number of specific matters related to the first paragraph of its Terms of Reference. What this first paragraph requires the Tribunal to do is to inquire urgently into whether any substantial payments were made directly or indirectly to Mr. Charles Haughey during any period when he held public office, commencing on the 1st January, 1979 and thereafter up to the 31st October, 1996, where any such payment was made in circumstances giving rise to a reasonable inference that the motive for making the payment was connected with any public office held by Mr. Charles Haughey or where the payment had the potential to influence the discharge of such office.
Payments in this context includes payments that are made directly or indirectly to Mr. Charles Haughey.
As a result of information made available to the Tribunal and the most exhaustive investigations carried out by the Tribunal, a number of payments have come to its notice. The question is whether these payments come within the ambit of subparagraph (a) of the Terms of Reference of the Tribunal, whether they were substantial payments made directly or indirectly to Mr. Charles Haughey in the circumstances I have just mentioned.
The first matters the Tribunal proposes to examine at this public sitting under this heading relates to a number of cheque payments.
Firstly, a cheque for £282,500 sterling drawn on the account of Dunnes Stores (Bangor) in favour of a company known as Tripleplan.
Secondly, three cheques drawn on the account of Dunnes Stores in the following amounts; £49,620, £50,962, £79,418 which were subsequently converted into two cheques drawn on the account of Carlisle Trust for the sums of £100,000 and £80,000.
The three Dunnes Stores cheques which I have just referred to were made out to cash. The £100,000 Carlisle cheque was made out in favour of Celtic Helicopters and the £80,000 Carlisle cheque was made out to cash but was lodged to a company known as Kentford.
Kentford was a company operated by the late Mr. Des Traynor and it held an account in 1992 with Bank of Ireland.
Thirdly, the Tribunal proposes to examine a number of cheque payments, six in all, drawn on various accounts of Dunnes Stores on the same day being the 28th January, 1987 in varying amounts between £4,600 and £6,600.
In total, these cheques amounted to the sum of £32,200.
Fourthly, the Tribunal proposes to examine whether three cheques — I beg your pardon, Sir, whether three bank drafts drawn on Guinness & Mahon in Dublin for £600,000, £100,000 and £50,000 respectively and lodged to an account of Mr. Charles Haughey come within the ambit of this subparagraph of the Tribunal’s Terms of Reference.
You, Sir, as Sole Member, will have to decide whether in the first instance in their historical context, these payments were substantial.
For ease of reference, I will refer to the payments which I have just outlined as follows; the £282,500 sterling will be referred to as the Tripleplan cheque; the three sums amounting to £180,000 will be referred to as the Dunnes/Carlisle amounts and; the six cheques amounting to the sum of £32,200 will be referred to as the Dunnes January 1987 cheques.
I will refer to the payments of £600,000, £100,000 and £50,000 amounting in all to £750,000 as the AIB payment.
If I may first turn to Tripleplan. The Tribunal received information concerning this cheque both from Dunnes Stores and Mr. Noel Fox. The precise circumstance in which the matter first came to the attention of the Tribunal will be dealt with in detail in the evidence. For the moment, I merely wish to outline the facts surrounding the drawing of the cheque and the ultimate destination of the cheque.
The Tripleplan cheque is drawn on the account of Dunnes Stores (Bangor). The person most closely connected with the drawing of the cheque is Mr. Matt Price. Mr. Matt Price was an executive of Dunnes Stores Bangor. In 1987 he was a director of the company. He retired from that position on the 30th June, 1998. On the on the 20th May, 1987, he drew a cheque on the account of Dunnes Stores Bangor Limited at the Ulster Bank Newry in the sum of sterling £282,500.
From the documents made available to the Tribunal by Mr. Noel Fox and Dunnes Stores, it would seem that Mr. Matt Price sent the cheque to Dublin under cover of a compliment slip. From the compliment slip it seems that he sent the cheque to Mr. Noel Fox and that this was done by agreement with Mr. Bernard Dunne. Mr. Price has not been able to recall whether it was Mr. Dunne or Mr. Fox who instructed him to draw up the cheque.
Mr. Fox is an accountant and was at that time a close associate and advisor of Mr. Dunne and had daily and intimate involvement in all of the affairs of Dunnes Stores operating in Dublin.
Although the cheque was transmitted to Dublin, it subsequently appears to have been retransmitted back to Newry to the branch of the bank upon which it was drawn. The cheque was then negotiated through that branch, in other words, value was given for the cheque. Tripleplan Limited was a company which did not have an account at that branch and the manner in which or the circumstances in which value was given for the cheque at that time are not entirely clear as it has not been possible to unearth all of the records regarding the cheque some twelve years later.
Tripleplan Limited was a shelf company formed by an English firm of company formation agents in London on 1st September, 1983. Sometime shortly after its formation, it came under the control of certain Channel Island interests. In June, 1985, new interests took over the company. It came into the ownership of two companies known as Sovereign Management Limited and College Trustees. These are two companies which were associated with or had relationships with Guinness & Mahon. The directors of the company on its takeover by College Trustees and Sovereign Management were Mr. John Collins and the late Mr. John Furze. Both Mr. Collins and Mr. Furze had addresses in the Cayman Islands. As the public will know from the report of the McCracken Tribunal, Mr. Furze and Mr. Collins were intimately involved with the late Mr. Des Traynor in connection with the accounts now known as the Ansbacher Accounts. Mr. Furze is also one of the individuals through whom monies were routed to Mr. Charles Haughey from Mr. Bernard Dunne.
As the report of the McCracken Tribunal showed in July 1988, the second payment to Mr. Haughey in the sum of sterling £471,000 was routed through an account in the name of Mr. Furze in London. In November, 1987, the first Dunnes payment of sterling £182,630 to Mr. Haughey was by cheque payable to Mr. Furze.
To return to the Tripleplan cheque, all but £15 of the proceeds of the cheque was credited to an account in Guinness Mahon & Company in London. The London bank with a name similar to Guinness & Mahon in Dublin was, in fact, the parent bank of the Dublin bank. This account to which the cheque was credited is known as the Dublin bank, and I refer to Guinness & Mahon Dublin for the remainder as the Dublin bank, nostro account. It was through this account that sterling is paid for crediting to accounts in the Dublin bank.
The account into which the proceeds of the cheque were lodged in London was, in fact, the Dublin bank’s account in London. The £15 which was not credited to the nostro account was a charge for the special clearance of the cheque which was negotiated in Newry and credited in London on the very same day it was negotiated in Newry, that is on the 28th May, 1987.
The proceeds of the cheque having been credited in London then passed through the banking system from London to Dublin and through a series of Ansbacher accounts in Dublin. Eventually it was converted to Irish pounds. The Irish pound equivalent, £309.220.29 was then credited in the Dublin bank to an account in the name of Amiens. Amiens was one of a series of accounts operated by the late Mr. Des Traynor in connection with the Ansbacher accounts. One of these accounts was referred to in the report of the McCracken Tribunal in connection with the receipt and application of the first Dunnes payment of sterling £182,630.
As I have said, the amount of the cheque after conversion to Irish pounds was £309,220.29. Of that £309,220.29, £285,000 was then transferred to Mr. Charles Haughey’s current account at Guinness & Mahon. This account at the time was overdrawn. The overdrawn balance was cleared by the £285,000, leaving a small credit which was subsequently transferred back to the same Amiens account. The balance of the £309,220.29 was then withdrawn in cash from Amiens.
As I have already indicated, the attention of the Tribunal was drawn to this cheque by representatives of Dunnes Stores and representatives of Mr. Noel Fox who, having ascertained the ownership and identity of the directors of Tripleplan, were of the view that this cheque might be material to this Tribunal’s Terms of Reference.
The Tribunal’s inquiries over a considerable period of time have enabled it to obtain information which appears to suggest that the proceeds of this cheque were paid into Mr. Charles Haughey’s current account in Guinness & Mahon and thereby clearing the debit balance of £282,880.73. From the information available to the Tribunal, it would appear that some of the people who seemed to be centrally involved with this cheque have no recollection of the cheque or of the circumstances in which it was drawn. Mr. Bernard Dunne has no recollection of giving any instructions in relation to the payment of Tripleplan. Dunnes Stores itself had no trading relationship with Tripleplan. Dunnes Stores (Bangor) had no invoice against which this payment was made. It would seem that in other words, Mr. Price had no reason, that is no commercial reason, to make the payment other than, of course, by being instructed to so do. The payment was, in fact, being made by Mr. Price at the request of Dunnes Stores in Dublin . As far as Mr. Price’s own accounts at Dunnes Stores in Bangor were concerned, this was a sum due from the account of Dunnes Stores in Dublin to Dunnes Stores in Bangor. However, there was no commercial justification for the payment by Dunnes Stores in Dublin. Dunnes Stores in Dublin had no relationship, commercial or otherwise, with Tripleplan and indeed no knowledge of the company.
Mr. Bernard Dunne has informed the Tribunal that he did not authorise the giving of any instruction in relation to the payment. It was not his intention that any such payment should be made and he never gave instructions that Mr. Charles Haughey was to receive this amount, either by this payment or in any other way.
Mr. Noel Fox has made a statement, and I should pause here and say that statements furnished to the Tribunal are not in the form or by way of police statement, in which he indicates that he had no recollection of the cheque and that it was not until investigations were carried out both in Dunnes Stores and in his own firm that a connection was made between the cheque and Mr. John Furze with an address in the Cayman Islands. Those investigations also showed that Mr. John Collins, with an address in the Cayman Islands, was also involved.
It was as a result of this information that he was prompted to assume that the cheque was one which might have been made with Mr. Bernard Dunne’s direction and probably through him sent to the late Mr. Des Traynor. He has informed the Tribunal, however, that he has no recollection of either being asked by Mr. Traynor to request Mr. Dunne for this, nor does he recall how the cheque was transmitted through him to Mr. Traynor.
The cheque was drawn in 1987. In the following year, it would appear somewhat late in that year, Messrs. Oliver Freaney, accountants, were carrying out an audit on the accounts of Dunnes Stores. In the course of that audit, the Tripleplan cheque came to the attention of the auditors. The auditors were unable to find any invoice to which the cheque corresponded and raised queries. It appears that the matter was not resolved and remained a matter requiring clarification on the books of Dunnes Stores until February of 1997. From information available to the Tribunal, it would appear that the matter was taken up by one of the company’s executives with Mr. Bernard Dunne and that Mr. Bernard Dunne had informed the executive that the matters should be referred to Mr. Noel Fox.
The circumstances in which this cheque was paid will now be further pursued by the Tribunal at its public sittings. The Tribunal envisages that evidence will be given from the various persons involved with the drawing of the cheque, the negotiation of the cheque through the Newry branch of the Ulster Bank, the ultimate crediting of the cheque to accounts of Guinness & Mahon in Dublin and the manner in which the cheque was substantially dealt with by accountants carrying out an audit of Dunnes Stores. Consideration will also be given to manner in which the cheque ultimately came to the attention of the Tribunal through Dunnes Stores and Mr. Noel Fox.
It would appear that without being exhaustive about what now has to be done, the Tribunal will have to pursue the question as to who prompted or who was involved in inducing or persuading or otherwise causing instructions to be given to Mr. Matt Price to draw the cheque. When on the basis of the information available to the Tribunal, there was no intention of the part of Dunnes Stores or Mr. Bernard Dunne that the cheque should go to Mr. Haughey, how is it that it ended up to the credit of his account.
I move now to what I have described as the Dunnes January/February ’87 cheques. Six cheques were drawn on accounts of Dunnes Stores at the end of January, 1987. Each of the cheques was dated the 28th January, 1987 and each was payable to bearer. Each of the cheques was signed by Mr. Bernard Dunne. The cheques were for the sums of £4,600, £5,400, £5,400, £5,600, £6,600, and £4,600. The total of these cheques amounts to £32,200. They all appear to have been drawn on different bank branches.
The cheques came to the attention of the Tribunal in the course of its private work when examining lodgements to the account of Amiens into which the Tripleplan cheque was paid. The records of Guinness & Mahon show that these six cheques were paid into the Amiens account by two separate lodgements. I should, of course, state that these cheques were also brought to the attention of the Tribunal by Dunnes Stores. On the 2nd February, 1987, there was a lodgement of £15,400 made up of £4,600, £5,400 and £5,400. On the 4th February, 1987, there was a lodgement of £16,800 comprising, £5,600, £6,600 and £4,600.
An examination of the account statement shows that there were drawings from this account in favour of Haughey Boland & Company Limited, both immediately prior to these lodgements and in subsequent months. Haughey Boland were a firm of chartered accountants which are now incorporated into the accountancy practice of Deloitte and Touche.
The report of the McCracken Tribunal found that for many years prior to 1991, Mr. Charles Haughey’s day-to-day financial affairs were dealt with by Haughey Boland who paid his personal and household expenses. Deloitte and Touche have confirmed to the Tribunal that payments made by Haughey Boland on behalf of Mr. Haughey were drawn from the Haughey Boland No. 3 Account and that all funds to meet those payments were lodged to that account. It appears that certain of the debits from the Amiens account match credits to the Haughey Boland No. 3 Account.
The information and documents available to the Tribunal therefore suggest that the proceeds of these six cheque payments may have been applied for the benefit of Mr. Charles Haughey.
Mr. Noel Fox has informed the Tribunal that the handwriting on the six cheques, including the dates, are his handwriting but that the figures and signatures are in those of Mr. Bernard Dunne. Mr. Fox cannot recall filling in these cheques nor can he recall anything further in relation to them. Mr. Bernard Dunne has confirmed that the signatures on each of the cheques are his signature. Mr. Dunne has no recollection of what the cheques were used for. He did not give instructions to any person to hand or to give the cheques to any politician or for them to be used for the benefit of any politician. Mr. Dunne has no recollection of lodging or instructing any cheque to be lodged to an account in Guinness & Mahon. He has indicated that on occasions he would have given bearer cheques to employees or other persons and that such cheques might have been lodged to accounts in Guinness & Mahon.
The Tribunal envisages that evidence will be given by all persons involved in the drawing of these cheques with a view to ascertaining on whose instruction, in what circumstances and for what purpose the six bearer cheques were drawn on six separate Dunnes Stores accounts and how they were lodged to an account of Amiens in Guinness & Mahon which was controlled by the late Mr. Des Traynor and out of which payments may have been made for the benefit of Mr. Charles Haughey.
I now intend, Sir, to move on to what I have described as the Dunnes Carlisle cheques and it will take some little time and if you were going to break at your stated time of 12:30, it would interrupt the opening in respect of that, Sir.
CHAIRMAN: In the circumstances, Mr. Coughlan, I think we will take the lunch adjournment a few minutes early today and we will resume at quarter to two.
MR. COUGHLAN: May it please You, Sir.
MR. COUGHLAN: May it please you, Sir. Before lunch, I indicated I would be moving on to what I described this morning as the Dunnes/Carlisle cheques.
Early in 1998, the solicitors for Carlisle Trust drew certain cheque payments on the account of Carlisle Trust at the Rotunda branch of the Bank of Ireland to the attention of the Tribunal. The background to these cheque payments is as follows:
Carlisle Trust is a property company controlled by a Mr. John Byrne. The late Mr. Des Traynor was a director of that company and played a significant role in the financial administration and appears to have played a significant role in the financial control function of the company.
The day-to-day financial administration of the company was carried out by Management Information Services. Management Information Services is a company controlled by a Mr. Sam Field-Corbett. His partner in the company, Mr. Patrick McCann, was responsible for much of the day-to-day financial administration of the affairs of Carlisle Trust Limited. This involved, to a significant degree, merely the recording of receipts for rent and perhaps expenses related to the operation of a company mainly engaged in the business of leasehold office property.
Disbursements in most cases would be controlled by Mr. McCann on the basis that any cheque written on the account of the company in respect of a disbursement would correspond with an invoice from an appropriate supplier.
In November, 1992, Mr. McCann was approached by the late Mr. Des Traynor who informed him that he had three cheques which he wished to lodge to the account of Carlisle Trust. Two of these cheques were actually handed to Mr. Patrick McCann and he arranged for them to be lodged to the account of Carlisle Trust. The third cheque was lodged to the account some time shortly afterwards.
These cheques, three in number, were for the following amounts: £49,620 and it was dated the 20th November, 1992; £50,962, and that was dated the 23rd November, 1992; and a third cheque in the sum of £79,418, and this was dated the 27th November, 1992. The cheques were drawn on the account of Dunnes Stores Grocery No. 6 account, College Green, and were each payable to cash. The cheques were signed by Mr. Dunne and they were dated on the dates which I have just mentioned.
After the lodging of the three cheques to the account of Carlisle Trust, two cheques were then drawn on Carlisle Trust account with the Bank of Ireland Rotunda branch. One was in the sum of £100,000 in favour of Celtic Helicopters and one in the sum of £80,000, payable to cash. The cheque payable to cash was lodged to an account of Kentford with Bank of Ireland.
The documents and statements available to the Tribunal suggest that there was no commercial justification for the drawing of any of these cheques on the account of Dunnes Stores, nor was there any commercial justification for the drawing of these cheques on the account of Carlisle Trust. In other words, Dunnes Stores did not have any indebtedness to Carlisle Trust, nor did Carlisle Trust have any indebtedness to Celtic Helicopters or to Kentford. There were no commercial relationships of any kind between any of these companies. Nor were there any commercial relationships between Dunnes Stores or Mr. Bernard Dunne with either Kentford or Celtic Helicopters in relation to these payments.
The treatment of the payments in the account of Carlisle Trust is something the Tribunal will wish to investigate further. Mr. McCann was given instructions by Mr. Traynor that this payment into the account of Carlisle Trust was to be contraed against the £180,000 payment out,” that in other words would be no reference to this transaction in the accounts; that is, the figures would remain in the bank statement only and would not be reflected in the accounts of Carlisle Trust.
The £100,000 cheque was paid into the account of Celtic Helicopters. The directors of Celtic Helicopters admit that this payment was received. They have indicated that they knew nothing of this payment and that they were informed by Mr. Traynor that it was in the nature of some form of loan or investment, the precise nature of which is not clear. It appears that the late Mr. Traynor may have suggested that this sum was intended to be an investment in the name of a Mr. Murphy.
The Tribunal has, to date, failed to obtain from Celtic Helicopters a more precise description of the aforementioned gentleman or his name and address. The directors of the company are Mr. Ciaran Haughey and Mr. John Barnacle. They appear to know very little about this investment or loan, notwithstanding what may appear to be a large amount of money and they seem to suggest that the matter was entirely left in the hands of the late Mr. Traynor.
The £80,000 paid to Kentford came under the control of the late Mr. Traynor and it would appear that this sum of money was ultimately applied for the benefit of Mr. Charles Haughey. It appears that this was achieved by a method sometimes used by the late Mr. Traynor, of carrying out transactions on two separate and apparently unconnected bank accounts, one, the Kentford account, an onshore or resident account, and the other an offshore Ansbacher account.
Mr. Haughey’s interest in the Ansbacher account, specifically the S8 sterling account, was increased by crediting it with a sum of STG £84,400, being the sterling equivalent of £80,000 at or around the time of the payment. This was achieved by crediting the holdings of individual Ansbacher account holders while at the same time making available onshore, that is in a resident account, Irish pounds for disbursement to other Ansbacher account holders.
The effect of this was the avoidance of the direct transfer of funds from an offshore account to an onshore beneficiary. In other words, it would appear that the Kentford £80,000 punt payment ultimately benefited Mr. Haughey by a resultant credit in his favour in his Ansbacher account to the tune of £84,400 sterling. I may have inadvertently, Sir, said that the £80,000 was paid to Kentford. It was in fact made out to cash but paid into Kentford.
The Tribunal’s investigations to date have brought this matter to the point where, as a result of information made available by Carlisle Trust and as a result of investigations carried out in relation to various bank accounts and inquiries made of various people, it would seem that Mr. Bernard Dunne recognised that these cheques had been written by him on an account in Dunnes Stores. He, however, has no recollection nor is it a recollection that it was his intention that these monies should be transmitted to Mr. Charles Haughey, either to the extent of £80,000 paid into the Kentford account or in respect of any part of these monies.
Mr. Dunne is also of the view that it is his recollection that it was never his intention that Mr. Traynor should receive any of these monies. In other words, it is his recollection that he never gave these monies or any part of them to Mr. Traynor or Mr. Charles Haughey, nor did he authorise the giving of these monies or any part of them to Mr. Traynor or to Mr. Charles Haughey.
Mr. John Byrne, the principal of Carlisle Trust, also asserts that it was never his intention that any part of this money should be transmitted to Mr. Charles Haughey. He also asserts that he was not aware that Mr. Traynor had paid the money into his firm’s account and subsequently arranged for the writing of two cheques on the account of the company. He has expressed his dismay that this should have been done.
It has to be remembered that all of this material in documentary form and in statement form has yet to be scrutinised in public. It does not yet constitute evidence. However, the Tribunal has now reached the point where, assuming that the statements are correct, certain questions will require to be pursued and they will be pursued in the course of the next phase of the Tribunal’s investigations at its public sittings.
The Tribunal will have to endeavour to establish as much as possible concerning the circumstances surrounding the making of these payments, specifically with a view to ascertaining what other persons were involved in the transmission of this money from Dunnes Stores to the late Mr. Traynor, and how, if this money was not intended for Mr. Charles Haughey, a portion of it nevertheless appears to have been directed for his benefit. As far as Mr. Dunne and Mr. Byrne are concerned, it was unintended and unauthorized.
A related question is whether the payment of £100,000 to Celtic Helicopters was an indirect payment to Mr. Charles Haughey or whether it was a payment to a connected person.
I now turn, Sir, to what I referred to earlier this morning as the AIB payments.
The Tribunal’s interest in Allied Irish Banks stems from the fact that inquiries carried out by the Tribunal have shown that in 1980, substantial sums of money amounting in total to £750,000 were lodged to Mr. Haughey’s account in the bank to clear up a longstanding indebtedness.
The manner in which this indebtedness was treated by the bank warrants investigation in public. Mr. Haughey’s relationship with the bank goes back many years prior to the three substantial payments I have just mentioned. Mr. Haughey had a number of accounts with the bank. Throughout the 1970s, these accounts were essentially debit accounts. Mr. Haughey owed substantial sums of money to the bank throughout the seventies and his indebtedness steadily grew. Mr. Haughey was regularly interviewed by the bank and the issues arising on those interviews will be dealt with.
By August of 1979, Mr. Haughey owed the bank well over one million pounds. During 1979, discussions between Mr. Haughey and the bank with a view to settling his indebtedness reached what appears to have been a critical stage. Various proposals and counter proposals were discussed from time to time during that year. The relationship between these various proposals is not yet clear and will require further investigation.
At one point, it seems from documents provided from the bank, on the 20th June of that year, Mr. Haughey offered the bank £400,000 in full and final settlement to be paid before the end of 1979 and in conjunction with this, Mr. Haughey mentioned to the bank the possibility of the bank being offered a £10 million Middle Eastern deposit at a rate of interest below the market rate. The source of this deposit is not clear but in the bank documents, there are references to a Middle Eastern bank. Allied Irish Bank did not show any enthusiasm for this proposal.
Mr. Haughey also indicated that there was a prospect of sourcing the money needed to discharge his indebtedness from certain land deals. At one time, Mr. Haughey indicated that he might be able to provide £200,000 in reductions of debt from a land deal in Baldoyle. This, I should stress, Sir, all appears from the bank documents. What was meant precisely by a land deal in Baldoyle was not made clear to the bank and it is not as yet clear from any other documents made available to the Tribunal or from any other information made available to the Tribunal.
The late Mr. Traynor seems to have become very actively involved in endeavouring to settle Mr. Haughey’s indebtedness around December 1979. Again from bank documents, it would appear that at that time, a scheme was being proposed to enable realisation of part of Mr. Haughey’s lands at Abbeville under an arrangement involving a disposition of part of his lands to a Mr. Patrick Gallagher or his group.
By October 1979, it would seem, however, that what was envisaged by Mr. Traynor was a different scheme whereby part of the money to clear Mr. Haughey’s debt at an agreed settlement figure would be put up by Mr. Patrick Gallagher and at least two other people who Mr. Traynor had in mind who would make contributions. The type of involvement these other people were likely to have is unclear. It is not clear whether they were going to be involved either as investors or in some other unspecified way.
At that point, that is, in the latter part of 1979, the bank indicated to Mr. Traynor that they might be prepared to forego £150,000 on the amount outstanding in Mr. Haughey’s account. From information made available to the Tribunal by the bank, Mr. Kennedy, the regional manager, met with Mr. Traynor on the 17th December 1979 with a view to progressing the settlement. At that meeting, Mr. Traynor made it clear that for political reasons, the proposals which he had been pursuing up to that time were now out of the question for the reason that the parties concerned could not be involved because they did not want their names being dragged into the political arena or into Dail Eireann. At this point, Mr. Haughey was involved in a leadership battle, one from which he subsequently emerged victorious.
At that meeting on the 17th December 1979, the full and final debt, according to Mr. Kennedy’s note, was 1.143 million. Mr. Traynor had a new proposal. Mr. Traynor’s new proposal was on the basis that Guinness & Mahon would loan Mr. Haughey the sum of £600,000, provided that Allied Irish Banks would accept this in total discharge of his indebtedness. Mr. Traynor was informed that this was unacceptable to the bank and that the continuing situation was a source of embarrassment to the bank. Mr. Traynor indicated that as far as he saw the situation, the bank’s option was either to take the £600,000 or to leave the debt outstanding indefinitely.
Mr. Kennedy, the regional manager, left Mr. Traynor with the understanding that the most the bank would go to discount the indebtedness was to write off £200,000 and that was as far as they would go, bearing in mind the questions that would be asked by their auditors.
Again, from the bank documents, it would appear that sometime between this meeting and the 24th January 1980, there were high level contacts between Mr. Traynor and the chairman of the bank, Mr. Niall Crowley. It seems by the end of the first week of January 1980, a settlement had been reached. Mr. Patrick O’Keefe, the then chief executive of the bank, also seems to have been involved in bringing the matter to a conclusion.
Between the initiation of Mr. Traynor’s first proposal in December, 1979, and the conclusion of the settlement in January, 1980, Mr. Haughey had become Taoiseach. The settlement terms were contained in a document, a letter sent by Mr. Patrick O’Keefe, the deputy chief executive, to Mr. Haughey. And they were in this form:
“Dear Mr. Haughey, I refer to the discussions recently had here with Mr. Traynor from which certain proposals have emerged for the discharge of the indebtedness on all your accounts with the bank. The proposals, briefly stated, are;
1: The debit balance on the accounts was agreed at £860,000.17 to be permanently reduced to £110,000 by mid-February 1980.
2: The remaining balance of the indebtedness, namely £110,000, is to be liquidated within a reasonable period of time by the introduction of funds arising from the disposal of any part of the property and lands known as Abbeville. (It being understood that not less than 10 percent of the proceeds of such disposal will be so introduced.)
3: As soon as the indebtedness has been permanently reduced to IR £110,000 as set out at 1 above, the bank will release its charges on the residence and 248 acres known as Abbeville and hand the title documents relating thereto to Mr. J. D. Traynor. At the same time, the associated letter of guarantee for IR £350,000 will be cancelled. The remaining items of security comprising in the main the deeds of Inishvickillaun, the deeds of a house on 13 acres County Sligo, and a life policy for £1,000 will be held by the bank as security pending liquidation of the remaining indebtedness of £110,000.
It is to be further understood that as part of the arrangements, the remaining debit balance of £110,000 will outstand free of interest, in the Head Office Ledger of the Bank at Bank Centre, Ballsbridge, Dublin, with no transactions save for reductions in clearance.
You will appreciate that the implementation of arrangements of this nature would, in the normal course, give rise to certain legal requirements. However, since the fulfillment of the agreement outlined is a matter of honour, I am dispensing with such formalities, confident in the knowledge that you will ensure beyond any doubt that the IR £110,000 would be cleared within a reasonable time.
As part of the arrangement referred to at 1 above, a lodgement of IR £600,000 was received by me on the 21st January 1980 and is hereby formally acknowledged. I am sending this letter to you in duplicate and I shall be obliged if you would kindly initial one copy and return it to me in the enclosed addressed envelope.
This will signify your acceptance of the agreement set out in this letter and it will also taken as specific authority to release security as appropriate.
Yours sincerely, Patrick O’Keefe, deputy chief executive” and then it is signed, “Accepted: Charles J Haughey.”
From information available to the Tribunal, it would appear that the settlement terms were at least in part complied with. The £750,000 was paid to Allied Irish Banks in January and February of 1980 by way of three bank drafts. These bank drafts were drawn on Guinness & Mahon. It would appear that the first draft for £600,000 was sent to Allied Irish Banks some time in or around the 21st January 1980.
It would seem that on the 31st January 1980, a further draft in the sum of £100,000 was sent by Mr. Traynor to Mr. Patrick O’Keefe, deputy chief executive of the bank. A further draft for £50,000 was sent by Mr. Traynor to Mr. O’ Keefe in or around the 14th February, 1980.
Under the terms of the settlement, this cleared a significant proportion of Mr. Haughey’s indebtedness to Allied Irish Banks after allowing for what might appear to be a very substantial discount. This left a debit balance of £110,000 which the bank agreed to leave outstanding but free of interest. From the information available to the Tribunal, it does not appear that this was ever cleared although the bank did comply with its terms of the settlement in releasing security documents to Mr. Haughey.
From inquiries carried out by the Tribunal with Guinness & Mahon, it would appear that these bank drafts were funded by debits to an account held with Guinness & Mahon in the name of the late Mr. Des Traynor. Whether Mr. Gallagher or any of the two other unnamed persons mentioned by Mr. Traynor to the bank were involved in making lodgements to this account or whether the lodgements were solely from Mr. Traynor’s resources or from other resources of Mr. Haughey or somebody else is not known.
Allied Irish Banks have furnished statements from former members of staff familiar with some of the events surrounding the settlement of Mr. Haughey’s indebtedness. From these statements, it would seem that the bank did not regard the settlement as one which was in any way commercially unjustified.
The Tribunal, will, nonetheless, wish to scrutinize the circumstances in which this indebtedness was settled with a significant or what might seem to be a significant discount when the bank had securities in excess of the amount of the indebtedness.
It would also appear from documents made available by the bank that, at some time in or around 1983, the bank issued a statement to the press.
The statement was part of the bank’s files relating to Mr. Haughey and appears to relate to newspaper articles suggesting that Mr. Haughey was heavily indebted to the bank. The bank’s statement asserts that “Any suggestion that Mr. Haughey was heavily indebted to the bank in the previous year was outlandishly inaccurate.” Of course it was correct to say that Mr. Haughey’s indebtedness for the year prior to the publication of the press article was inaccurately stated in the article but was not inaccurate so far as his historical indebtedness to the bank was concerned.
The Tribunal has endeavoured to establish what or who prompted the issuing of the statement from the bank, but is yet to obtain a statement. This, of course, may be due in part to the fact that relevant personnel may now be deceased. The date on which the statement was issued by Allied Irish Bank and carried in the Evening Press was on the 1st February 1983.
The Tribunal, for the purpose of dealing with the opening statement which you directed I should make, asked interested parties if they wished to send anything to the Tribunal for incorporation in my opening statement on the basis of the documents which had been sent to them.
Allied Irish Banks have requested that their comments in relation to the indebtedness of Mr. Haughey and the settlement with Mr. Haughey should be included in the Tribunal’s opening statement. Their comments are as follows:
1: Allied Irish Bank sought no advantage or favour arising out of the indebtedness to it on these accounts and indeed exerted considerable pressure on the debtor to compel him to deal with his affairs when it could be said that he had reached the apex of his career, having just become Taoiseach.
2: Allied Irish Bank believed the compromise was commercially justified, having regard to the protracted and difficult history of the accounts, to the fact that it was extricating itself from them and was to have no further dealings with the affairs of Mr. Haughey.”
That, Sir, is the opening statement which I make at this discrete phase of the Tribunal’s work and as I have already indicated, during this phase, it may be necessary, depending on where the inquiry may go, for me to make further outline statements and in those circumstances, if any of the legal representatives of any person appearing before the Tribunal wishes anything to be incorporated in any further outline statement, I will be only too happy to do so.
CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Mr. Coughlan.