The Mahon Tribunal doesn’t look like ending anytime soon, and due to a backlog of witnesses to question they’ve delayed the next appearance of Taoiseach Bertie Ahern until after the summer, but there have been some intriguing revelations in the evidence of the last two days from senior officials with AIB. Yesterday, as the Irish Times reported today, Philip Murphy, the assistant manager who dealt personally with Mr Ahern’s affairs at AIB O’Connell Street, “agreed that the bank’s records showed that a lodgment made in October 1994 by Mr Ahern, could not have comprised the mix of Irish pound and sterling sums cited by Mr Ahern to the tribunal.” Today, another official with AIB, Jim McNamara, revealed that the Taoiseach had contacted him “up to three months ago to ask what the inquiry knew about his foreign exchange transactions.” According to the RTÉ report
Mr McNamara said he told both the Taoiseach and the tribunal that the bank had no conclusive proof that the lodgements involved foreign exchange.
From today’s Irish Times [no subs]
Mr Murphy, who was assistant manager at AIB O’Connell Street at the time, agreed that the bank’s records showed that a lodgment made in October 1994 by Mr Ahern, could not have comprised the mix of Irish pound and sterling sums cited by Mr Ahern to the tribunal.
“It doesn’t add up, isn’t that right, Mr Murphy?” the witness was asked. He replied: “Yes.”
The tribunal has already heard that Mr Ahern has told it in private that a £28,772.90 lodgment made in December 1994 was made up entirely, or almost entirely, of sterling cash. However, the bank’s records show that less than stg£3,000 was purchased by the bank on that day. Also, at one of the dollar exchange rates in operation on the day, the amount lodged equalled $45,000 exactly.
Mr Ahern has also told the tribunal that he used money from a large cash withdrawal in January 1995 to buy stg£30,000, which he later relodged with the bank. A search of the bank’s records has found no such sterling purchase.
No news on whether Bertie Ahern’s “legal guys” will change their advice on not to contest the continuing inquiries..
Adds Today’s Irish Times report on Mr McNamara’s evidence to the Tribunal
The tribunal heard yesterday that at the time contact was made by Mr Ahern between January and April of this year, Mr McNamara had just begun trying to establish whether the bank’s files indicated whether the three transactions had been preceded by foreign exchange transactions.
Yesterday he agreed with Des O’Neill SC, for the tribunal, that it appeared that at the time he spoke with Mr Ahern, Mr Ahern knew the three transactions had been preceded by foreign exchange transactions.
Mr Ahern did not tell Mr McNamara this, and Mr McNamara did not ask Mr Ahern whether it was the case.
At the time of the contact between the bank official and the Taoiseach, neither the bank nor the tribunal had established that the lodgments had been preceded by foreign exchange transactions.
The involvement of foreign currency has since been confirmed to the tribunal by Mr Ahern during a private interview in April.
Asked about his conversation with Mr Ahern, Mr McNamara said Mr Ahern had wanted to know what information the bank had gathered for the tribunal “so that when he would have to answer any questions … he would be aware of the same information that we had submitted to the tribunal”.