Thursday 5 December 2019

Ansbacher secrets pursued for years by diligent whistleblower

The list of names and account holders were held in a black leather briefcase.
The list of names and account holders were held in a black leather briefcase.

Fionnan Sheahan

The names of the account holders were held in one safe.

The details of the accounts were held in another safe.

The list of names and account holders were held in a black leather briefcase.

A staff member at Guinness & Mahon bank disclosed how the sensitive material attached to the Ansbacher Cayman Island bank was confidentially handled.

The whistleblower now lifting the lid on the affair says this staff member revealed seeing a host of household names from the world of politics, including several well-known former Cabinet ministers from Fianna Fail and one from Fine Gael, along with another former figure from the party.

The civil servant felt the allegations were reliable enough to warrant further investigation. He wanted an extension of the Ansbacher investigation to look into why these names were not part of the report into the offshore tax evasion scandal.

In particular, he wanted a computer, which came into the possession of Irish Permanent when it took over Guinness & Mahon to be forensically scrutinised.

The civil servant claims the judge who was responsible for investigating the Ansbacher affair also had an account with Guinness and Mahon and dealings with Des Traynor, the accountant at the centre of the affair.

The late Declan Costello had an impeccable record and pedigree. The son of former Taoiseach John A Costello, he was a former Fine Gael TD, Attorney General and High Court judge.

He was appointed as a High Court inspector into Ansbacher.

But the whistleblower claims he had a conflict of interest.

He says when Mr Costello was asked about his interaction with Mr Traynor, he said he merely knew him on a social level and had no dealings with Guinness & Mahon.

The civil servant outlines his continuous efforts to have his allegations investigated, including bringing it directly to the attention of ministers in several governments. Although there was no direct investigation, as he requested, the claims were officially passed on the instruction of the then Enterprise Minister Micheal Martin to the Revenue Commissioners, Garda Siochana, the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, the Moriarty Tribunal and the Mahon Tribunal nine years ago.

"I am satisfied that the measures I have taken in respect of the examinations have ensured that any wrongdoing suggested by the investigative work of the authorised officer has been brought to the attention of the appropriate authorities for such action as they think fit," Mr Martin said in reply to a Dail question.

The whistleblower isn't satisfied it was adequately probed, and has now gone to the PAC.

Irish Independent

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