FG criticised for not disclosing $50k donation

Tuesday 22 March 2011 13.11
Moriarty Tribunal - Payment was made with false documentation
Moriarty Tribunal - Payment was made with false documentation

The report from the Moriarty Tribunal has criticised the Fine Gael party for not revealing the clandestine nature of a $50,000 donation made by Denis O'Brien after his company won Ireland's second mobile phone licence competition.

The Tribunal said payment was made with false documentation and was designed to be concealed.

It found Mr O'Brien instigated the payment of $50,000 to Fine Gael two months after his company ESAT Digifone won the GSM licence.

The Tribunal found that then Minister for Communications and Fine Gael TD Michael Lowry did not personally benefit from the donation.

It found that the donation was made by ESAT's Norwegian partners Telenor but reimbursed by Mr O'Brien's company.

The Tribunal rejected as ‘spurious’ claims that the donation came from Telenor because of its interest in Irish affairs.

The Tribunal also found that businessman the late David Austin, a close friend of then Mr Lowry, was a conduit for the donation and the money held in an off shore Jersey Island account before being passed on to Fine Gael as Mr Austin's own donation.

The Tribunal found that when this ‘tortuous process’ became known neither the donor nor the recipient of the donation wished to keep it.

Then Fine Gael leader John Bruton ordered that the cheque be returned to Telenor who refused to accept it and the Tribunal found that it finally came to rest somewhere in ESAT Digifone.