A FORMER Fianna Fail fundraiser has brought a legal challenge over the planning tribunal's finding that he failed to disclose the source of IR£39,000 (€49,530) held in a bank account.
Businessman Des Richardson claims the Mahon Tribunal's findings are "wholly erroneous" on grounds including he was never asked during examination by counsel for the Tribunal to account for the origins of the funds in the account, known as the Roevin Account.
Mr Richardson gave evidence over several days to the Tribunal in respect of its investigations into the finances of former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.
The Tribunal has opposed the action which it argues should be rejected on all grounds. The Tribunal claims that Mr Richardson failed to make a full and frank disclosure of material and relevant facts when seeking to challenge the tribunals findings, and that his case should be dismissed.
The Tribunal heard that in 1993 funds from a company called Roevin Ireland Ltd were used to purchase a bank draft paid to Mr Ahern. Mr Richardson was examined extensively about his involvement with Roevin over two days of the Tribunal's public sittings.
In High Court proceedings which opened today, Mr Richardson, Serpentine Avenue, Dublin 4 wants to quash two sections of the final report of the Tribunal of Inquiry in Certain Planning Matters and payments concerning him.
The first of the two paragraphs states: "Mr Richardson claimed not to have any knowledge of the source of the IR£39,000 which opened the (Roevin) account in 1992. The tribunal rejected Mr Richardson's evidence in this regard."
The second paragraph states: "The Tribunal found it incredible that Mr Richardson, who without difficulty appeared able to access the account of Roevin Ireland Ltd on December 22 1993 and used its funds to obtain a draft payable to himself was unable to account to the Tribunal for the origin of funds in the account."
"The Tribunal did not believe Mr Richardson in this regard, and concluded that Mr Richardson, in all probability, knew the reason why the account was opened and its purpose, and that he knew the source of the IR£39,000 which initially funded the account October 1992. Mr Richardson chose for whatever reason not to disclose this information to the Tribunal."
Opening the case, Jim O'Callaghan SC, for Mr Richardson, said his client was never asked about his knowledge of the source of the IR£39,000 used to open the Roevin Account.
Mr Richardson had not told the Tribunal he was unable to account for the origin of the funds in the account, and was never offered an opportunity to explain the source of the monies in the Roevin Account which he was happy to do had he been asked, counsel said.
Mr Richardson, he added, had not withheld significant information from the Tribunal which had made findings in respect of matters Mr Richardson was never asked about.
Counsel said the Tribunal had offered to amend the paragraphs on the on line version of the report, however this was not sufficient.
A website can be taken down in a short period time, counsel said, and the error in relation to his client will be included the Mahon Report, which will be "kept in the National Library for over 100 years" when all concerned will "be long gone."
Mr Richardson is seeking various orders including one requiring the Tribunal to remove the two paragraphs from all forms of the final report. He is also seeking an order requiring the Tribunal write to the Taoiseach and all people given the final report informing them the paragraphs have been removed.
In its statement of opposition, the Tribunal says that Mr Richardson's action should be dismissed for his failure to provide full and frank disclosure of material facts to the High Court. It also alleges that in failing to explain the source of the lodgement of £IR 39,000 has failed in his duty of candour to the High Court.
It had offered to amend the two paragraphs in the final report on it its website but was not prepared to delete the paragraphs as it would leave a section of the final report in relation to Roevin draft incomplete.
The hearing before Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne continues.