Moriarty tribunal: Haughey took ?250,000 from his sick friend's lifeline fund
CHARLES Haughey stole ?250,000 from the money raised for the late Brian Lenihan's liver transplant.
Mr Justice Moriarty found that Haughey "personally misappropriated" a large amount of the funds raised for the transplant in the United States for the man he described as his "closest political friend".
In blunt terms, the tribunal chairman said it gave him "no satisfaction" to find that Mr Haughey deliberately encouraged fundraising on a scale beyond what was needed and that he used the surplus money for himself.
A total of ?336,000 was raised for the operation, but just ?88,000 was actually required. This allowed Haughey to misappropriate almost ?250,000.
"No other conclusion can be reached by the tribunal in the light of the evidence heard," his report states.
The tribunal report is scathing of Haughey, stating it was "reprehensible" of him to try to blame others.
The evidence on the fundraising for Mr Lenihan's life-saving operation arose in the context of the tribunal's investigations into the publicly funded party leader's account.
Monies raised for the transplant were lodged into that account and the tribunal found that Haughey had misused money from this account for his own personal benefit.
In 1989, fundraising for Mr Lenihan's operation was underway and the tribunal said the method of recording these funds was "haphazard".
This facilitated the misappropriation of funds raised for Mr Lenihan by Haughey, as did his determination that they be lodged in the party leader's account.
The fundraising campaign started in May 1989, although at that time Haughey already knew the VHI was prepared to make an "ex-gratia" payment of ?63,490 towards the cost of the operation.
At the time Haughey was also aware that additional funds of ?127,000 would be required, but he urged a target of up to ?250,000 to be raised.
The tribunal report outlines several donations to the fund that were "personally misappropriated" by Haughey.
These included ?25,390 from Dr Edmund Farrell, then of the Irish Permanent Building Society, and ?31,740 from Mark Kavanagh on behalf of Custom House Docks Development Company Ltd.
In the same period the Fianna Fail party was raising funds for the general election that year and the tribunal also found that Mr Haughey drew from these sums that were lodged in the party leader's account.
"Mr Haughey demonstrated a clear and deliberate intention to use opportunities provided by the raising of funds for the late Mr Lenihan and the election campaign to advance his personal finances," the report states. In addition to the money misappropriated from the liver transplant fund, the tribunal found Haughey also misappropriated ?107,000 provided by Mr Kavanagh and Dr Michael Smurfit for the Fianna Fail party.
Mr Justice Moriarty found Haughey's evidence in relation to all these matters was "less than candid" and states his attempts to blame other party officers was "reprehensible".
Haughey, according to the report, operated the party leader's account in an "irregular fashion".
Yesterday on RTE the Fianna Fail senator Mary O'Rourke said the issues surrounding the liver transplant for her late brother Brian Lenihan was now a "closed" chapter in her life.
Charles Haughey, Feb 2, 2001
"I'd just like to say this Mr Chairman, if I may, that my efforts on behalf of Brian Lenihan at that time were the most compassionate thing I have ever done in my life and I think it is absolutely preposterous that this whole genuine charitable effort on my part at that time should now, 20 years or so later be sought to be turned against me in the most cruel fashion, that I would deliberately divert to my own purposes money that was subscribed by well-meaning people for the good and salvation for my friend Brian Lenihan.
At that time Chairman, I had known Brian Lenihan for 30 years.
He was one of my closest personal friends and certainly my closest political friend."
Mr Justice Moriarty Dec 19, 2006
"The Tribunal is satisfied that Mr Haughey alone knew what was collected for the benefit of Mr Lenihan, and by whom it was contributed. The Tribunal has established that as much as £265,000.00 may have been collected for that purpose, and that of those funds, no more than £70,283.06 was applied in meeting the costs and expenses attendant on Mr Lenihan's medical treatment in the United States. The Tribunal is satisfied that a sizeable proportion of the excess funds collected was misappropriated by Mr Haughey for his personal use."