Friday 9 December 2016

CAB poised to probe Lowry's cash deals

But disgraced TD insists in Dail there is no money trail

Fionnan Sheahan, Tom Brady and Michael Brennan

Published 30/03/2011 | 05:00

Disgraced TD Michael Lowry arrives at Leinster House yesterday
Disgraced TD Michael Lowry arrives at Leinster House yesterday

The Criminal Assets Bureau is considering investigating former Fine Gael minister Michael Lowry in the wake of the Moriarty Tribunal report.

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The disgraced Independent TD last night challenged CAB and the Director of Public Prosecutions to look into his business and political dealings.

As the head of the CAB begins his examination of the tribunal's findings, Mr Lowry defiantly claimed: "There will be no money trail."

Mr Lowry denied the tribunal finding that he had received benefits worth IR£900,000 from businessman Denis O'Brien from two property deals and a loan arrangement.

"Let me make it quite clear tonight, you can send in CAB, you can send in the army, to investigate my affairs. . . and there'll be no IR£900,000 found because it was never there and it's not there," he said.

A garda review of the findings of the Moriarty Tribunal to establish if there is a basis for a criminal investigation will be completed within a month.

Mr Lowry also rejected suggestions he might go to jail for breaking the 1993 tax amnesty.

"The amnesty and my dealings with the Revenue were all open and on the table, and it was in context of amnesty that my full and final settlement was made. . . in 2007," he said.

Gardai must determine whether there is any basis for corruption charges against Mr Lowry. If he got money from someone seeking to win a public contract, it could be found to be corrupt.

There has only been one corruption prosecution to date, as a result of a tribunal of inquiry.

Former government lobbyist Frank Dunlop served 18 months in prison and was fined €30,000 for making corrupt payments to politicians during the 1990s.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny was forced into a U-turn last night and will now answer questions tonight on Fine Gael's donations and the party's relationship with businessman Denis O'Brien, who was awarded the mobile phone licence at the centre of the probe.

Opening a two-day debate on the tribunal last night, Mr Kenny did not call on Mr Lowry to resign from the Dail.

Censure

The Taoiseach also did not say if he accepted the conclusions of Judge Moriarty but instead "welcomed" his recommendations.

Mr Lowry will face a motion of censure in the Dail. Sinn Fein is tabling such a motion criticising the minister, while Fianna Fail is seeking a cross-party motion from both the Government and opposition.

Mr Lowry used the cover of the Dail to launch a blistering attack on the tribunal, saying it "was determined" that it would not be seen "as an expensive failure".

He said a lengthy list of witnesses before the tribunal testified that he "did not interfere, in any way, with the licence process".

"I received no money from Denis O'Brien. . . No witness gave evidence to this tribunal in the past decade supporting the tribunal's conclusions," he said.

Mr Lowry said he welcomed the fact that the DPP and CAB would look at it.

"And I am going to say this on the record of this House: there will be no money trail coming back to Michael Lowry's door because there never was money and there is no money," he said.

Irish Independent

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