Thursday 12 December 2019

Tribunal 'didn't have resources' to check account claims

A copy of the Moriarty Tribunal Report is held up at Dublin Castle. Photo: Tom Burke
A copy of the Moriarty Tribunal Report is held up at Dublin Castle. Photo: Tom Burke
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Shane Phelan and Niall O'Connor

THE Moriarty Tribunal did not join civil servant Gerard Ryan in investigating claims that former government ministers had dodged tax as it was under-resourced, the whistleblower has claimed.

Mr Ryan, a Department of Enterprise official who was tasked with investigating the Ansbacher scandal, detailed how Mr Justice Michael Moriarty was briefed about the allegations in April 2004.

According to Mr Ryan, the judge was told of claims that the names of several former Fianna Fail ministers and a former Fine Gael minister appeared in a "very secret" ledger for high-profile Ansbacher account holders that was kept in a black briefcase.

The judge was informed of the matter by a barrister acting on Mr Ryan's behalf, he claims in a dossier supplied to the Dail Public Accounts Committee last week.

At the meeting, it is claimed Mr Justice Moriarty said it was appropriate for Mr Ryan to continue his investigation as there was "no sense" in the tribunal going over the same ground as it was "under-resourced".

"He asked the authorised officer (Mr Ryan) to disclose to the tribunal on a regular basis whatever information he had gathered from his investigation," the dossier said.

After his investigation was closed down later that year, Mr Ryan said a government official told him Mr Justice Moriarty was "neutral" on the decision for it to be discontinued.

In the dossier, Mr Ryan went on to criticise the tribunal for not picking up the investigation.

He claimed it should have asked questions of bank officials and TDs at its public hearings to establish whether the accounts existed.

"Not one former employee of Guinness & Mahon was asked any questions about the senior Fianna Fail TDs' Ansbacher accounts at any public hearing of the tribunal," he said.

"None of the senior Fianna Fail TDs with accounts in the very secret Ansbacher ledger were ever questioned at public hearings of the tribunal about their Ansbacher accounts, nor was the Fine Gael minister."

Mr Ryan added: "The Moriarty Tribunal was aware of all of these matters prior to the publication of its report and chose not to make reference to this evidence of possible wrongdoing covered by its terms of reference."

The serving civil servant alleged this was a state of affairs that undermined the integrity of the tribunal and the reliability of its findings.

He said the information provided to it was significant and that the tribunal had failed to properly investigate it.

Irish Independent

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