Ahern facilitated the misuse of party funds

A companion piece to the main story from the Moriarty Report on Charles Haughey’s irregular finances noted by Mick which reflects more on the current political scene, namely the then-Finance Minister, now-Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, whose own financial irregularities were called into question recently. From the Irish Times breaking news

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern facilitated the misuse of party funds by Charles Haughey by signing blank cheques for an account designed to receive funds for the party leader from the Exchequer, the Moriarty report found.

Update George provides a link to the Moriarty Report[pdf file] and here’s a Press Association reportFrom the Irish Times breaking news

For all practical purposes, the account was treated by Mr Haughey as being at his disposal, and Mr Haughey accepted that it was used for payments not intended to be made from the Leader’s Allowance, including payments to meet his personal expenditures,” the report said.

The report added that although Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, who co-signed the cheques drawn on the account at the time, facilitated the misuse of the account, he had “had no reason to believe that the account was operated otherwise than for a proper purpose.

“There were no statutory or other controls governing the operation of the account at the time,” the tribunal said.

It added that the practice of signing blank cheques by Mr Ahern was “inappropriate and imprudent, having regard to the nature of the account (being one used to administer funds provided from the public purse), the skills and experience then possessed by Mr Ahern”.[added emphasis]

So not corrupt, just incompetent?

Update From the PA report

“Whilst the tribunal is satisfied that Mr Bertie Ahern (who co-signed the cheques drawn on the account), had no reason to believe that the account was operated otherwise than for a proper purpose, the practice of pre-signing cheques by Mr Ahern undoubtedly facilitated the misuse of the account by Mr Haughey,” the judge found.[added emphasis]

“This was a practice which has to be viewed as both inappropriate and imprudent.”

Adds The full paragraph in the report that the quotes are drawn from is

23-36 There were no statutory or other controls governing the operation of the account at the time, and whilst the Tribunal is satisfied that Mr. Bertie Ahern (who co-signed the cheques drawn on the account), had no reason to believe that the account was operated otherwise than for a proper purpose, the practise of pre-signing cheques by Mr. Ahern undoubtedly facilitated the misuse of the account by Mr. Haughey. This was a practise which has to be viewed as both inappropriate and imprudent, having regard to the nature of the account (being one used to administer funds provided from the public purse), the skills and experience then possessed by Mr. Ahern, and the absence of any internal or external audit of the account. This was a matter which was largely accepted by Mr. Ahern in his evidence to the Tribunal, and it is noteworthy that, at the instance of Mr. Ahern, certain amendments to the law governing the allowance have since been made, which have introduced significant statutory controls in terms of both the application of the allowance, and in terms of accountability to the Public Office Commission.[added emphasis]