Lawyers for the Moriarty Tribunal have asked the former Chief Executive of Esat Digifone, why, in March of this year, the company issued a statement that they must have known to be untrue. In response to media revelations about a $50,000 donation to Fine Gael from the Norwegian company Telenor, Esat Digifone issued a statement to the press saying that they had no record of ever having reimbursed Telenor in respect of a contribution to Fine Gael.
Gerry Healy pointed out to Barry Maloney that, since 1997, the directors of the company had known that they had in fact reimbursed the company. He reminded Mr Maloney that he was the one who, in 1997, had asked that the reimbursement, which had been recorded as a consultancy fee, be reclassified as a political donation. Mr Maloney accepted this, but he went on to argue that the Tribunal was splitting hairs.
Mr Maloney told the Tribunal this morning that, to this day, he is still concerned about his belief that Denis O'Brien had, in 1996, intended to pay Michael Lowry £100,000. Tribunal lawyers put it to him that, once the flotation of Esat Telecom had gone ahead in November of 1997, neither he nor any of Esat's other directors investigated the matter any further, despite the fact that those concerns remained.
In relation to this matter and the Telenor payment of $50,000 to the Fine Gael party, Tribunal lawyers have said that there seems to have been a determination on the part of Esat Digifone that the full facts of these matters should not come out. Mr Maloney has not accepted this interpretation.