Tuesday 24 April 2018

Dunlop says developer didn't know he was bribing councillors

Frank Dunlop: said his fees were paid into false account
Frank Dunlop: said his fees were paid into false account

Jessica Magee

FORMER lobbyist Frank Dunlop claims developer Owen O'Callaghan was not aware of bribes paid to councillors for rezoning land at Quarryvale, which later became Liffey Valley Shopping Centre.

Mr Dunlop was giving evidence at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court corruption trial of businessman Jim Kennedy and four councillors.

Mr Kennedy (66), of Queens Quay, Gibraltar, denies making corrupt payments to councillors through Mr Dunlop between 1992 and October 1997 for their votes to rezone land at Carrickmines.

Under cross-examination from Michael O'Higgins SC, defending, Mr Dunlop said he met Mr O'Callaghan in 1991 and agreed a fee for lobbying work to secure the Quarryvale rezoning.

He said Mr O'Callaghan paid him a total of IR£1.8m for his work, but he never told the developer he was going to bribe councillors for their votes.

Mr Dunlop said the agreement was that his lobbying fees would be paid to his false company, Shefran, on which he did not pay tax, in order to keep all transactions "off the radar".

He said one of the reasons for using Shefran was so that Sean Gilmartin, who owned the Quarryvale site, would not be aware of his role in the project.

Mr Dunlop denied he treated Mr O'Callaghan like "an idiot abroad" or that he had "shafted him" by tainting all his motions to have the land rezoned.

He rejected the suggestion that by contaminating the rezoning motions he had left Mr O'Callaghan open to an action by the Criminal Assets Bureau to seize profits, similar to the action faced by Mr Kennedy regarding Carrickmines.

The court heard testimony given at the planning tribunal - where Mr Dunlop had said that the payments he made to politicians using Mr O'Callaghan's money had been accounted for "in general" but "not in each specific individual case".

He added that his bribes to councillors in 1991 and 1992 had both occurred "conveniently" around election time, but agreed the elections had been "a subterfuge, a cover" whereby bribes could be passed off as legitimate political donations.

REVENUE

Mr Dunlop told the court he contacted Mr O'Callaghan when he got notice from the planning tribunal in October 1998 "because legal fees don't come cheap".

He said Mr O'Callaghan agreed to pay his legal fees and did so for more than two years.

He also said Mr O'Callaghan had paid him IR£300,000 when he told him he was facing "a problem with Revenue".

In answer to Mr O'Higgins, Mr Dunlop agreed that when he realised the tribunal would be investigating his bank accounts, he contacted Revenue and made a voluntary tax declaration of IR£240,000 in late 1998.

He said he called in an agreed "success fee" from Mr O'Callaghan in order to pay.

Mr Dunlop agreed that the description used on his invoices to Mr O'Callaghan was for "professional strategic communications and educational services".

Mr Dunlop has testified that Mr Kennedy gave him IR£25,000 in 1991 to bribe four councillors to vote for rezoning at Carrickmines. Mr Kennedy denies 16 counts of making corrupt payments.

Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown councillor Tony Fox (72), of Churchtown, Dublin, and former councillors Colm McGrath (56), of Saggart, Donal Lydon (74), of Stillorgan Park Avenue and Liam Cosgrave (57), of Blackrock, have pleaded not guilty to corruptly receiving money as inducements to rezone lands as industrial.

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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