Here is how Mr Ahern’s resignation unfolded. Mr Ahern’s gross salary when he was Finance Minister was £63,184.63 per annum. (Day 804 Q357). This is a combination of a TD’s and a Minister’s salary.
October 15, 2004
Mr Ahern is put on notice that the Tribunal will be making an order for discovery.
November 24, 2004
Mr Ahern is ordered to “discover all accounts held in any financial institution, whether held within or outside the State, in his own name either individually or jointly or for his benefit or into which he made lodgements of money or into which he caused or procured lodgements of money to be made or into which lodgements of money were made for his benefit”.
Following a request from Mr Ahern, the Tribunal directed that had he could limit the production of documentation to lodgments over £30,000. This was in line with the ‘Starry’ O’Brien libel case, and the original Gilmartin allegation.
This was to be complied with by January 11, 2005.
This applied to all accounts between January 1, 1988 and December 31, 1995. Mr Ahern had ALSO originally sought that only accounts held between January 1, 1989 and December 31, 1992 be subject to discovery.
This would have discovered nothing, since he later claimed he held no accounts during this period.(Day 756 Q96)
Without the knowledge of the tribunal, Ahern sought from the banks back office documentation relating a number of the lodgments. This emerged later in evidence. (Day 757 Q35) The documentation could not conclude the source of this money. Sandra Cullagh collected the documentation from the bank in January 2005. (Day 757 Q59). Ahern was able to glean that the cash lodgments were cash but not that some involved foreign exchange.
It also meant the Ahern knew that the tribunal would be unable to identify the source of the monies from back office documentation. (Day 757 Q65)
Ahern claims that at the time, he did not remember that there were large fx lodgments related to the amounts. (Day 757 Q70)
Also at the very same time Ahern went to Larkin and asked her to seek similar information from the same branch. She did so. (Day 757 Q87). Larkin then went to Ahern and told him the story.
Larkin was not being inquired of at this stage since she was not mentioned to the Tribunal until May 2006. (Day 757 Q89)
The affidavit provided in February (below) makes no mention of Ahern’s money being held in Larkin’s accounts, only that he transferred £50,000 to her. This is a crucial point. The discovery required him to declare all accounts held for his benefit.
January 10, 2005
Mr Ahern asks for an extension to the end of January as he is having difficulty assembling his figures. The Tribunal grants the extension.
February 7, 2005
The affidavit of discovery is provided to the Tribunal. In the affidavit, Mr Ahern says he has no outstanding tax liability and did not avail of the tax amnesty. It says Ahern kept no accounts during the period 1987 to 1993, and his salary cheques were cashed by either him or his staff. (Day 756 Q104)
The affidavit also noted briefly that Ahern had transferred money in December 1994 from his accounts to Celia Larkin’s accounts. It gave no further detail, including the fact the Larkin held these accounts for Mr Ahern’s benefit.
February 25, 2005
The Tribunal responds to Ahern’s affidavit. It wanted more. The Tribunal formed the view that it was necessary that Ahern make discovery and produce to the Tribunal all documentation in his power, possession or control relating to these accounts.
The Tribunal said the documentation should include all documents and records which would include correspondence, memoranda, financial records, bank accounts documents, include bank statements, lodgements, withdrawal slips, copy cheques, copy cheque stubs and other such documents and where applicable telephone records, diaries, personal and professional, whether electronically stored or otherwise, solicitor’s documents, documents of other advisers and other documents whatsoever which came into existence arising out of the lodgements to or withdrawals from the bank accounts as covered in paragraphs A and B of the Tribunal’s order of 24th November 2004.
In other words. It didn’t just want amounts of £30,000. It wanted everything.
It gave Ahern a deadline of March 27, 2005 to produce documents.
Following from a long held agreement between AIB and the Tribunal, AIB ask that they only be obliged to furnish bare bank statements to their client and the tribunal, to save the onerous work of producing back office documentation. The tribunal agrees to this request, but says they may seek further information on specific lodgments. (Day 756 Q117)
May 27, 2005
The Tribunal seeks further information about specific lodgments, and asks Mr Ahern to give the necessary permission to AIB and PTSB to do so. This was necessary because the Tribunal had not made orders against those institutions, as was standard practice. The bank was not prepared to release documents without written approval from Ahern. (Day 756 Q117)
It attaches a list of lodgments it is seeking to investigate. Specifically the tribunal is interested in the second goodwill loan and the £19,142 lodgment.
June 10, 2005
Mr Ahern responds, giving his written authority.
October 21, 2005
The Tribunal receives the bank documentation in relation to AIB, though Ahern had received it slightly earlier. (Day 756 Q148) This is when the tribunal first learns the breadth of lodgments.
October 25, 2005
Having only cold bank documentation from AIB and PTSB, the Tribunal seeks a detailed narrative from Ahern in relation to all the transactions. The Tribunal was looking for a financial make over setting out is income and expenses, the sources of his monies from 1989 to 2002. (Day 756 Q153)
The Tribunal added:
“It is the view of the Tribunal that a detailed response to the above specific questions will significantly shorten the proposed public hearings. The Tribunal would be obliged for your client’s cooperation in this regard. The Tribunal is anxious to deal with the matter in correspondence, insofar as that is possible.” (Day 756 Q155)
The asked the narrative be provided by November 30, 2005.
March 3, 2006.
Three months later and the Tribunal again writes to Ahern. They have not received a response. He is asked to reply by March 24, 2006. Given the volume of transactions, the Tribunal prioritise specific transactions that they are seeking a narrative on.
These are £15,000 in December 1993, £30,000 in April 1994, the £20,000 in August 1994, the £24,838 in October 1994, and the £19,142 in December 1994. (Day 756 Q161, 162)
By this time the Tribunal had yet to be told any story by Ahern in relation to these amounts.
The Tribunal again stressed:
“The Tribunal is of course anxious to receive replies to all queries raised at the earliest possible opportunity. In addition, the Tribunal is also anxious to receive your client’s Affidavit of Discovery in compliance with the Tribunal’s order dated 24th November 2005”
March 7, 2006
Because of the delay, the Tribunal again write to Mr Ahern’s solicitors. This time seeking authority to interview people who may have acted on behalf in making lodgments to Mr Ahern’s accounts. (Day 756 Q167)
They ask he reply by March 16, 2006
March 27, 2006
Ahern’s legal team respond, almost four months after the deadline has passed. They are not happy. Mr Ahern later claimed the delay was due to the volume of documentation required. (Day 756 Q178)
“We would like the Tribunal to identify the precise allegations relating to our client that the Tribunal is currently investigating.” They then go on to talk about Gilmartin’s allegation of £15m via Bank of Ireland. (Day 756 Q171)
Mr Ahern only became aware of some of these specific allegations because of the O’Callaghan case, taken in late 2005, which obliged the tribunal to circulate documents to all affected parties. (Day 756 Q172, 173)
March 30, 2006
The Tribunal replies. They still are concerned that Ahern has not explained the five cash lodgments. (Day 756 Q194)They then again extend the time by which he must respond to April 21, 2006. He is warned that if he does not comply, that he will be summonsed to attend a public hearing on May 2. The tribunal then sets out in detail how Ahern should go about answering the tribunal’s questions. It also says that if Ahern does so, it may find that the lodgments warrant no further investigation.
In a second letter they make matters clear:
The Tribunal has not decided to conduct a public inquiry into the allegation,
1. That your client held or holds the sum of 15 million pounds in an account in Bank of Ireland in Jersey.
2. Your client may have held accounts in A Jersey, B, Liechtenstein, C, Dutch Antilles, D, England and consequentially information gathered in the preliminary investigative stage of that inquiry, will not be circulated other than the material which comprises prior statements of witnesses who may be cross-examined as to credibility arising there from.
A distinction should be made. The tribunal had not decided as yet to conduct an inquiry, meaning the tribunal had not made a decision as to whether investigate or not.
March 31, 2006
The Tribunal write again to Ahern’s solicitors. This time they say they will go direct to AIB and seek an order for discovery in relation to all accounts.
April 6, 2006
Ahern’s legal team replies. They give consent to the Tribunal interviewing people who made lodgments to Ahern’s accounts, including Sandra Cullagh and Grainne Carruth. The Tribunal is also assured that the rest will be forthcoming by the deadline of April 21.
April 21, 2006
The tribunal receives Ahern’s response. Des Peelo’s report is included, which details the lodgments.
This is the first time the tribunal learns a narrative explanation for the cash lodgments. Stories with which we are all now familiar. It is also the first mention of Celia Larkin holding money for Ahern.
Mr Peelo had access to no more documents than the Tribunal had already, he merely wrote the narrative.(Day 756 Q238) The tribunal then begins to investigate the narrative.
May 3, 2006
The Tribunal responds. It sets out to confirm the narrative. The Tribunal then sought access to any and all documents Peelo had used to make his conclusions, in order to confirm the narrative.
June 6, 2006
Mr Ahern responds. He claims legal privilege over documents relating to Peelo. (Day 756 Q300)
June 7, 2006
Mr Ahern via his solicitor informs the tribunal about the source of a large amount of the other lodgments outside of the 5 lodgments already discussed.
Mr Ahern says he believes the source of all these lodgements were his salary cheques, or an accumulation of salary cheques. (Day 756 Q315)
In September 2007 he swore under oath that this was the case. This is an important juncture. Ahern was saying that the other lodgments to his accounts were from salary. At the time, PTSB were unable to get documentation to either support or deny this story. So Ahern felt safe in this knowledge. He would continue to use this story until documentation emerged on March 3, 2008.
In an exchange of letters, Ahern’s legal team criticise the tribunal for their tone in seeking access to what they believe is privileged information. (Day 756 Q323)
August 4, 2006
By August, the Tribunal was being accused of “threatening” Ahern with appearing in the witness box. (Day 756 Q336)
Information is leaked to the Irish Times pertaining to the first digout loan. Ahern tells more in an interview on RTE. He makes statements to Dail Eireann.
Because of the leaks, the tribunal process was delayed until January 2007. (Day 756 Q345) But Ahern via Peelo is now talking to Revenue.
Notice the timing. Ahern’s relationship with the tribunal had deteriorated. We have to ask ourselves ‘qui bono’ or who benefited from the leak? In hindsight, one person benefitted – and that was Ahern himself. Or as Henry Kissinger put it: “If it’s going to come out eventually, better have it come out immediately.”
December 15, 2006
Des Peelo writing under the heading ‘additional voluntary discloscures’ tells the Revenue Commissioners that the IPBS have confirmed that they are unable to provide details re the two lodgements of £5,000 each. They have explained in writing that their records do not extend back to those dates.
Mr Ahern has no recollection as to the source of these lodgements. They may have been personal savings, political donations/gifts.
January 12, 2007
Mr Ahern tells the Revenue: “Whilst I believe these payments were in the nature of political donations, I have been unable at this remove in time, to identify their source or any details regarding same.”
January 29, 2007
The Tribunal write to Mr Ahern, seeking an explanation about the £19k and the £50k given to Larkin. (Day 756 Q347) They also seek information about the lodgment for £11,747.43. It should be made clear that as of this date, the Tribunal had no idea this transaction involved £10,000 sterling. (Day 756 Q348)
February 9, 2007
The Tribunal seek clarification from Ahern about Michael Wall and an account that allegedly held monies belonging to Ahern and Wall. Specifically the £28,772.90 which Ms Larkin says involved sterling, but only Michael Wall could say whether this was the case or not. (Day 756 Q349)
February 27, 2007
His lawyers also again complain about the tone of the tribunal.
March 2, 2007
The tribunal responds.
“Having considered the responses and the earlier correspondence dating from 2005, the Tribunal is of the opinion that the information so far provided via correspondence doesn’t resolve the Tribunal’s inquiries as to the source of the following payments made to Mr. Ahern and subsequently lodged as set out hereunder or the purposes for which the payments were made to him.”
1. Lodgement of 22,500 on 30th December 1993.
2. Lodgement of 30,000 broken down, on the 25th April 1994.
3. Lodgement of 20,000 to the account in the name of Georgina and Celia Ahern on the 8th August 1994.
4. Lodgement of 24,838.49 pounds on 11th October 1994.
5. Lodgement of 19,142.92 pounds on 1st December 1995.
The Tribunal also does not feel he has answered questions in relation to Ms Larkin in the sum of 50,000 pounds lodged to an account in the name of Ms. Celia Larkin on the 5th December 1994.
2. 11,743.74 lodged to an account in the name of Ms. Larkin on the 15th June 1995.
3. 9,655 pounds lodged to an account in the name of Ms. Larkin on the 24th July 1995.
It also says the Beresford purchase has not been explained.
It then invited Mr Ahern to private interview.
When questioned in evidence in September 2007, Ahern was asked why he had asked AIB in 2004: “Can you locate same on files and provide us with any information as to what the lodgement was made up of?”
Ahern had been asking AIB about these sums, but three years later had not given the Tribunal an account as to their source. (Day 757 Q33)
By inquiring of the bank, Ahern was able to learn that there was little documentation to show where the cash came from.
April 4, 2007
The tribunal receives documents from Peelo. It is a response to the Tribunal’s letter of March 2. Again in this report there is no reference to sterling. (Day 756 Q389) Mr Ahern later claimed he had not identified these amounts as sterling at that time.
April 5, 2007
Ahern is interviewed at his solicitor’s office by the tribunal. For the first time since the tribunal contacted Ahern in November 2004, he admits there were sterling lodgments. (Day 756 Q394)
More information is leaked to the media prior to the general election, this related to the Micheal Wall payments. Ahern claims this is an attempt to ‘do him down’ in advance of the election. The source of the leaks is unknown. The Tribunal ceases hearings in advance of the election, as is normal.
May 27, 2007
The Tribunal restarts. For the first time we learn the full breath of information available to the Tribunal at that time. This is given in the Quarryvale II supplementary statement. (Day 725 Q394) Counsel for Mr Ahern begin their criticism of the Tribunal in public.
September 12, 2007
Celia Larkin gives evidence. She details her part of the story.
Ahern gives evidence for the first time. He is taken through correspondence between him and the tribunal over the preceding three years.
AIB assistant manager Philip Murphy gives evidence. He details various cash amounts given to him by Mr Ahern. Des Richardson and Padraic O’Connor also appear. Mr O’Connor denies he was a close friend of Ahern, as Ahern had alleged in the Dobson interview in 2006. He also says the donation he made was intended for Ahern’s constituency, not Mr Ahern personally.
December 5, 2007
Ahern’s solicitors write to Ahern under the heading “issue of fair procedures
29 and advance notice of Tribunal hypothesis”. They want access to any hypotheses that the tribunal may put to Ahern, in advance of Ahern giving evidence. The Tribunal refuse.
December 18, 2007
Another important juncture. Towards the end of the day, St Luke’s secretary Grainne Carruth gives evidence. It is Ahern’s case that in relation to certain sums lodged to his accounts, specifically some sums to his PTSB account:
“Mr. Ahern does not have specific recollections of each of these transactions. His general practice being that Sandra Cullagh or Grainne Carruth of the Drumcondra Constituency Office would do one of the following.
1. Cash the cheque and lodge some of the proceeds to the Georgina/Cecilia account and then give the balance to Mr. Ahern or lodge the cheque to the account some of the cheque being encashed”.
Ms Carruth finished school and worked for Ahern. She was paid by Des Richardson via a company that was also involved in the Padraic O’Connor ‘donation’.
She was also asked about cash in St Luke’s. She could not confirm or deny there were large amounts of cash in Ahern’s safe. (Day 802 Q1009) Her evidence was that she would cash some of Ahern’s salary cheques, and hand the cash to Ahern in the period 1987-1993, when Ahern allegedly had no bank account. On occasion she would lodge money to his daughters’ accounts.
Critically, Carruth is asked about the lodgment of £30,000 sterling, which Ahern claims someone lodged on his behalf. Carruth is asked if she did. (Day 802 Q1051)
“Q1051. Yeah. So it is possible that you would be in the list of people that he would have asked to do this in the sense that you did banking transactions for him?
A. I never dealt in Sterling.”
She is also asked whether Ahern had contacted her in 2007, to ask her if she had lodged that £30,000 in 1995. She replies no.
Critically, Carruth is then asked by Judge Keys whether the money she lodged only related to salary cheques, and never involved FX transactions. Under oath, she replied no. (Day 802 Q1055)
December 20,21 2007
Friends of Ahern give evidence, backing up his story of digout loans. Ahern again gives evidence. During this evidence he accuses the Tribunal of trying to ‘stitch him up’. (Day 804 Q554) This was after a scenario was put to Ahern that a loan taken out in 1993 by him was a back-to-back loan. The Tribunal was also putting it to Ahern that various lodgments were from foreign exchange lodgments in round amounts.
Ahern appears again. He is now asked about his PTSB account, opened in January 1994, and about lodgments to the account. Ahern is unable to identify the source of the £5,000 opening lodgment. (Day 825 Q126) Ahern clams the bulk of lodgments into this account over the next 2 years were from salary cheques. (Day 802 Q216, 228, 230)
March 3, 2008
PTSB manager Blair Hughes attends the Tribunal for private interview. The Tribunal is seeking further information on the lodgments to Ahern’s PTSB account. He details lodgments to Ahern’s accounts in a statement. He says Grainne Carruth would lodge money to Ahern’s accounts. This contradicts her evidence that she cashed the cheques. Furthermore, most of the lodgments made by Carruth were, he recalled, and having documentary evidence, in cash sterling.
This was directly contradicting both Carruth and Ahern. Up until then Ahern had claimed that all of the money came from salary cheques. (Day 839 Q29)
March 6, 2008
Another significant date, and also the date on which Ahern also would have learned of the contradiction.
The Tribunal writes to Carruth, seeking an explanation for the lodgments. (Day 839 Q626). They also invite her to private interview to give a narrative. She fails to reply.
March 19, 2008
Hughes gives evidence to the Tribunal. The detail of the sterling lodgments is publicised. Carruth is also called, and is asked about the sterling lodgments. She says she cannot recall dealing in sterling. (Day 839 Q629)
Having admitted that she lodged sums to Ahern’s daughters’ accounts on the same day as the sterling transaction, the tribunal judges clearly find it unbelievable that she cannot remember sterling lodgments. They ask her to consider her position overnight.
March 20, 2008
Carruth returns. The tribunal details the penalties for perjury and for obstructing a tribunal of inquiry. Carruth sticks to her story that she cannot remember sterling lodgments, totaling £15,500. Her name appears on most of the lodgment dockets relating to sterling. At the time she earned £3,000 a year. She said: “I have no recollection in dealing in large amounts of money”. (Day 839 Q703)
She concedes the money must have come from Ahern but she cannot recall.
Due probably to the Easter weekend, much of the media fails to realise the import of the story. RTE do not place it high on their news agenda.
Ahern refuses to answer questions in relation to the contradictory evidence.
April 2, 2008
Ahern announces his resignation. He says it has “nothing to do” with what happened at the Tribunal.
We still do not know the source of the sterling, or why he failed to tell the Tribunal of it.