‘Irish ex-PM Ahern lied about cash payments’
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Last Updated: Thursday, March 22, 2012, 23:58
Dublin: A landmark 15-year Irish corruption probe said on Thursday it had found that ex-prime minister Bertie Ahern lied about bank deposits which led to his resignation.

The Mahon Tribunal's investigation of the deposits in the early 1990s linked to Ahern led to him quitting office in May 2008 when he said the "incessant publicity" surrounding the probe into his finances made his job impossible.

The report from the longest and most expensive public inquiry in Irish history said that key aspects of Ahern's evidence were "untrue".

"Much of the explanation provided by Mr Ahern as to the source of substantial funds identified and inquired into in the course of the Tribunal's public hearings were deemed by the Tribunal to have been untrue," the tribunal said in its 3,270-page report.

Ahern has always denied there was anything improper about a series of cash payments he received from friends and associates in Ireland and England when he was finance minister in the early 1990s, during his separation from his wife.

He said at the time he had "never received a corrupt payment and I have never done anything to dishonour any office I have held".

Ahern said then he "totally and utterly" denied allegations that he had received payments totalling 165,000 Irish pounds, equivalent to 210,000 euros or USD 275,000, from a property developer.

Set up by parliament in 1997, the Mahon Tribunal, comprising three judges, has heard from 409 witnesses during more than 900 sittings. Last week a parliamentary committee was told the final cost of the inquiry is expected to be about USD 329 million. Ahern became prime minister in 1997 and was nicknamed the "Teflon Taoiseach" after his Gaelic title because allegations against him never stuck.

He won three successive general elections as head of a coalition government and along with then British prime minister Tony Blair, helped seal the landmark 1998 Good Friday agreement that brought to an end 30 years of conflict in British-ruled Northern Ireland. (AFP)


First Published: Thursday, March 22, 2012, 23:58

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