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Mystery account story 'untruthful'

FORMER Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and a key member of the so-called Drumcondra Mafia operated a mystery bank account for their own benefit and did not give a "truthful" account of the source of £50,000 lodged to it.

A claim from Tim Collins that the 'B/T' account was used to maintain Mr Ahern's constituency office of St Luke's did not stack up, the tribunal found, because other Fianna Fail party trustees did not know of its existence.

Mr Collins was among a key group of Fianna Fail activists in Mr Ahern's Dublin Central constituency in the 1980s and 1990s. Others included Joe Burke and Des Richardson.

The account was opened at the Irish Permanent Building Society (IPBS) in Drumcondra in June 1989 by Mr Collins, a "close friend and associate" of Mr Ahern, the report said.

Between 1989 and 1995, lodgments totalling almost £50,000 were made to the account in a mixture of cash and cheques.

Mr Collins claimed he had "no knowledge" as to their source, but said they could have been political donations or from golf classic fundraising events.

But the tribunal said it was "puzzling" that the address to be used for correspondence in relation to the account was given as IPBS. In 1994, Mr Collins directed that mail be forwarded to his home address, rather than St Luke's, and in 2008 the account was renamed the 'Building Trust/House Committee Account.'

This was done because the inquiry was seeking information on the account, the report said. "The tribunal was satisfied that this action was taken by Mr Collins, most probably after discussion with Mr Ahern, as a direct consequence of the tribunal raising queries in November 2007 concerning the nature and purpose of the account.

"The tribunal was satisfied that at the time of the opening of the account in 1989, the letters 'B' and 'T' in the account's title 'B/T' stood for 'Bertie' and 'Tim'.

Irish Independent