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Wednesday 22 March 2017

'At 1,500 pages, this is the longest and most costly comic ever,' says Desmond

Tom Molloy

BILLIONAIRE investor Dermot Desmond last night described the Moriarty report as a "comic".

He also dismissed any interactions "which may or may not" have taken place between Denis O'Brien and Michael Lowry as "side shows" to the central issue of the award of the licence.

Mr Desmond, who owned a 20pc stake in Esat Digifone when the company won the mobile phone licence, gave evidence to the tribunal about his involvement in the bid.

However, the Moriarty Report said Mr Desmond was "not regarded as central to any aspect of the inquiries".

This did not stop Mr Desmond from saying in his statement yesterday that "at over 1,500 pages the Moriarty Report is the most lengthy and expensive comic ever produced".

The shareholder in the Glasgow football club and one of the key men behind realising Dublin's International Financial Services Centre was one of three people to make what the tribunal called "substantive" legal challenges to the tribunal.

The others were Mr O'Brien and the late Charlie Haughey.

The report refers to Mr Desmond's reputation as a "skilled and shrewd financier", but also says that he was "at the same time controversial".

The 61-year-old financier was brought in to a consortium headed by Mr O'Brien to help with funding through his International Investment and Underwriting business after Mr O'Brien had submitted a bid.

The tribunal found that the bid team had got wind of concerns in government circles that it did not have sufficient financial muscle to secure the deal and approached Mr Desmond.

The Cork native disputes the tribunal findings and also praises the civil servants involved in the decision. Mr Desmond said the mobile licence process was adjudicated on by up to 20 civil servants "without the involvement of Michael Lowry or any other politician".

Integrity

Those civil servants involved are "persons of the highest integrity from different departments, different backgrounds, different skill sets and different counties in Ireland. These civil servants have no vested interest", he added.

"Each of the civil servants gave testimony under oath that Mr Lowry had not suborned or attempted to suborn them or the process. No evidence was put forward to the contrary."

Irish Independent

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