Friday 19 October 2018

Hugh Coveney `had $175,000 in Cayman'

By FERGUS BLACK THE Moriarty Tribunal was told yesterday how efforts had been thwarted in the Cayman Islands in obtaining information about...

THE Moriarty Tribunal was told yesterday how efforts had been thwarted in the Cayman Islands in obtaining information about the offshore accounts of the late Fine Gael TD Hugh Coveney.

The tribunal also heard that Mr Coveney's Cayman account with over $175,000 was closed in 1979.

Coveney family solicitor Frank O'Flynn revealed how he had written to the Cayman bank last October seeking information about Mr Coveney.

But he was told in a letter last January that the bank was not in a position to provide information unless required to do so by an order of the Cayman Islands court.

Mr O'Flynn said he found it extraordinary he had been unable to obtain information from Ansbacher Cayman.

However, tribunal chairman Mr Justice Michael Moriarty said this was of little surprise to the tribunal.

The late Cork TD's involvement with the offshore accounts in the 1970s and the half million dollar loss he suffered through a failed US property venture in the 1980s were detailed by Mr O'Flynn who gave evidence on behalf of Mr Coveney.

Mr O'Flynn pointed out that any explanation of Mr Coveney's Ansbacher transactions could only be given through informed guesses based either on family knowledge or from hearsay information.

Mr Coveney was described as a wealthy man whose substantial personal income gave him the type of funds to invest in the Caymans. His Cayman account with over $175,000 was closed in December 1979, several months after he first became involved in local politics.

He was first elected a TD in June 1981 and appointed Minister for Defence in 1994.

Although he had one transaction in 1987 with Guinness and Mahon Cayman Trust this was not an Ansbacher deposit.

Mr O'Flynn said it appeared Mr Coveney's offshore account began in 1976 and ceased on December 20, 1979.

The tribunal has also been told of Mr Coveney's dealings with the Guinness Mahon Cayman Islands operation in the 1980s in connection with a failed US property venture in which he lost half a million dollars.

Mr Coveney's own memo of evidence furnished to the tribunal in January 1998 reveals how as a result of the failed venture the purchase of a 90-acre mobile home park near Phoenix, Arizona Guinness Mahon Cayman Trust ``called'' on his personal guarantee for stg£50,000.

In order to pay the stg£50,000 guarantee he had to sell 50,000 shares in Aran Energy. But his cheque to the bank ended up in an Amiens Security account and, in his memo, Mr Coveney said he could not understand why.

In the memo, Mr Coveney said Des Traynor advised about the kind of structure required to meet the demands of the Arizona project.

A trust was established with Guiness Mahon Cayman Trust as the trustees and the beneficiaries were five registered Cayman island companies.

Mr Coveney said the trust had to put up money and his share was $212,000 and he negotiated a venture capital type arrangement with Des Traynor.

The business deal was an ``unmitigated disaster and an absolute nightmare,'' the memo said.

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