Saturday 16 December 2017

Fundraiser blundered over $10,000 donation, says TD

Lorna Reid

Fundraiser Des Richardson breached procedures when he failed to lodge the $10,000 cash donation he got from British businessman Norman Turner, Fianna Fail's former financial controller Sean Fleming said yesterday.

Mr Fleming, now a TD for Laois Offaly, told the Mahon Tribunal that Mr Richardson should have banked the cash when he got it.

Mr Richardson has already told the planning inquiry that he converted the dollars to IR£6,780 and used the money to pay a bill for prizes for a golf tournament.

But Mr Fleming said that wasn't the way to go about it. Mr Richardson should have lodged the cash immediately and if he had to pay expenses to a company, that bill should have been sent directly to party headquarters.

Mr Turner was most anxious his donation to the party should remain anonymous and didn't want a receipt or an acknowledgement of his generous gift. That was fine, Mr Fleming told the tribunal, but Des Richardson still should have lodged the money when he got it. Mr Fleming, who has been a TD since 1997, said the first he knew about the Norman Turner donation was when Mr Richardson gave evidence to the tribunal last November.

When Mr Richardson finished up as chief fundraiser for Fianna Fail in 1999 he sent files back to party headquarters, including a handwritten note about the details of the Turner donation.

That, said Mr Fleming, was not Mr Richardson's usual practice. He normally sent lists of donations with the lodgment numbers beside them.

Mr Fleming said Mr Richardson never told him about the Turner donation.

The Turner donation was made in May 1994, but it was five years later, when Mr Richardson sent his files to party HQ, that the handwritten note about the donation was found.

Mr Fleming said that when Mr Richardson was appointed chief fundraiser for the party, he was given pre-printed lodgment dockets for an account which was set up in the Bank of Ireland, Baggot Street.

Fundraising

The party already had debts with another bank and the BOI account was for monies received from fundraising.

He added that when Mr Richardson set up his fundraising office in the Berkeley Court hotel he was given a small cash float -- the proceeds of a fund raising event -- to pay for start-up costs for the office.

"This was a once-off," Mr Fleming said.

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