Costs will add €200m to State's bill for Moriarty
THE Government is set to be hit with a bill of up to €200m for the Moriarty Tribunal – just as the country exits the troika bailout programme.
The Irish Independent has learned that High Court Judge Mr Justice Michael Moriarty, who chaired the long-running payments to politicians inquiry, is finalising third party legal costs.
The tribunal investigated links between former communications minister Michael Lowry and businessman Denis O'Brien over the awarding of the 1995 mobile phone licence to Esat.
It is understood that the assessment of third-party costs for witnesses including Mr Lowry and Mr O'Brien – whose combined legal costs could exceed €25m – will be finalised by October when the new legal term commences.
The Comptroller and Auditor General, in a 2008 report into tribunals, said that third party costs could range from €157m to €182m based on the pattern of awards observed in the Morris and Mahon Tribunals.
The tribunal, which is being wound down and is dealing with outstanding administrative issues, did not comment on legal costs.
But it is understood Mr Justice Moriarty, who returned to the bench on a full-time basis after his final report was issued two years ago, is finalising costs.
The legal costs issue was thrown back into the spotlight this week when it emerged Mr Lowry is being sued by his accountants, BBT Chartered Accountants, for work done for him at the tribunal.
The Independent TD is believed to have been waiting for a decision on his costs to settle his bill.
Both Mr Lowry and BBT have made separate applications to the tribunal for fees.
The sum owed by Mr Lowry to BBT is understood to be around €1.3m to €1.4m.
Third party costs, which are determined in retrospect, represent the major portion of the cost of tribunals.