Accounting for Bertie Ahern – redux

Simon at Irish Election wonders whether this is “the smoking gun?” We’ll have to wait to see whether Taoiseach Bertie Ahern can square the apparent circle between his previous account and the latest evidence to the Mahon Tribunal – his lawyer yesterday said he needed time to consult with Mr Ahern before responding. To date, accounting has not been one of the Republic of Ireland’s former Finance Minister’s stronger points.. The Irish Times frontpage report notes the latest discrepancy

The chairman, Judge Alan Mahon, noted that Mr Ahern’s counsel did not challenge yesterday’s evidence. Colm Ó hOisin SC, for Mr Ahern, said he wanted to reserve his position as he had not been able to consult with his client, who had been out of the State. In February Mr Ahern told the tribunal that a number of uneven figure lodgements to a building society account he opened in the Drumcondra branch of the Irish Permanent Building Society in 1994 arose from his lodging accumulated salary cheques to the account.

However, the manager in the branch at the time, Blair Hughes, told the tribunal yesterday that the documents created at the time of the transactions indicated the lodgements originated from the exchange of sterling immediately beforehand.

The total involved was £15,500 sterling and the branch records indicate the sterling was cash. The bulk of the money was lodged to Mr Ahern’s account although some was also lodged to two accounts belonging to his daughters at the same branch.

And from today’s RTÉ report on the Mahon Tribunal

The Mahon Tribunal has uncovered evidence that £15,500 sterling cash was lodged to Bertie Ahern’s building society accounts and those of his daughters in 1994.

This has contradicted Mr Ahern’s evidence that the money came from salary cheques.

[The Taoiseach’s former secretary] Gráinne Carruth previously denied to the tribunal that she ever handled sterling on Mr Ahern’s behalf or lodged any money to his account.

She now accepts ‘on the balance of probability’ that she lodged sterling after seeing documentation from 1994, but says she does not remember it.