Photo: Wikimedia Commons/ProhibitOnions
Former Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern received at least €209,779 ($276,000) in secret cash payments while in office and repeatedly lied about this under oath, the Mahon tribunal, a 15-year fact-finding investigation ruled Thursday, the AP reports.The three judges stopped short of finding Ahern guilty of corruption, because they found no evidence that Ahern gave favours to any of his donors when he was finance minister in the 1990s, ITN reports. But they did find two other former lawmakers from Ahern’s Fianna Fail party, including former Cabinet minister and European Union commissioner Padraig Flynn, guilty of corrupt acts.
“Much of the explanation provided by Mr. Ahern as to the source of the substantial funds identified and inquired into in the course of the tribunal’s public hearings was deemed by the tribunal to be untrue,” the Irish Times quoted the judges as saying.
During his 15 days of testimony in 2007, Ahern admitted keeping most of the money in personal safes at his office and home, failing to keep a personal bank account during much of the time under investigation, and paying no tax on any of it until the investigators uncovered its existence.
Fianna Fáil announced it has asked state prosecutors to use the tribunal’s 2,000-page report as the basis for prosecuting anyone found to have taken corrupt payments, obstructed justice, dodged tax, or other offenses. Several lawmakers have called on its current leader, Micheál Martin, to expel Ahern from the party.
Ahern has always denied any wrongdoing, but resigned from office in 2008 after 11 years in power. He has yet to comment on Thursday’s findings.
The Mahon inquiry was sparked by cash-for-votes accusations to do with land zoning in Dublin councils in the early 1990s.
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