Monday 19 March 2018

Businessman was at the centre of CRC storm

Jim Nugent has been involved in two recent high-profile controversies
Jim Nugent has been involved in two recent high-profile controversies
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Jim Nugent (68) has been a central figure in two high-profile controversies in recent years.

Most recently, the businessman was in the eye of the storm over top-up payments at the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC).

He was on the CRC board that resigned en masse in December 2013 following revelations that charitable donations were used to fund executive bonuses. Mr Nugent did not receive, and was not due to get, any bonuses. That controversy had a major impact on charities, and many saw a fall in donations.

Mr Nugent had stepped in to temporarily take over as CRC chief executive just before the board quit.

Initially, he insisted the board would not be resigning, saying it had done nothing to warrant its members stepping down.

Before that controversy, he sprung to prominence as a key member of Bertie Ahern's so-called Drumcondra Mafia - the supporters who helped run the former Taoiseach's constituency organisation. He told the Mahon Tribunal he had been a close personal friend of Mr Ahern since the 1970s.

Mr Ahern claimed Mr Nugent was one of eight people who made payments to him in December 1993 at a time when Mr Ahern was experiencing difficulties with his marriage.

This was corroborated by Mr Nugent, who said he made a contribution of IR£2,500. He said he had been delighted to help contribute as he regarded Mr Ahern "as a great friend".

However, the tribunal did not accept his evidence and that of a number of others who said they too had contributed to the "dig out".

In its report, it said it was satisfied that Mr Ahern did not receive or accept any such sum, either as a gift, or as a loan.

The tribunal found there had been large dollar and sterling cash lodgements made to Mr Ahern's bank accounts in the mid-1990s, but because he did not give a true account as to the source of the money, it had not been able to identify where it came from.

The controversy over the "dig out" payments hastened Mr Ahern's departure from office.

During the 1990s, Mr Nugent sat on the board of Cert, the state tourism training agency. He was also appointed to the board of the Central Bank.

These days, he is chairman of educational multi-media company Woodgrange Technologies Ltd.

Irish Independent

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