RTÉ News has learned that the former head of the Government's decentralisation project, Phil Flynn, has been charged with firearms offences.

Officers from the Criminal Assets Bureau served summonses on the former chairman of Bank of Scotland (Ireland), for possession of a firearm and ammunition without a licence.

The charges arose after detectives searched Mr Flynn's office in Dublin City Centre and found a pen gun and ammunition.

Mr Flynn was interviewed and a file was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

He has been summonsed to appear before the Dublin District Court on 10 October.

Mr Flynn has been under investigation by the CAB since it emerged that he had travelled to Bulgaria with the principal figure in the company at the centre of the garda investigation into money-laundering in the republican movement.

Mr Flynn, a former vice-president of Sinn Féin and a former ICTU president, told RTÉ in February that he went to Bulgaria but did not explain the circumstances of the visit.

Members of the Criminal Assets Bureau have also questioned Mr Flynn on his involvement with Chesterton Finance Company Ltd.

The company's business is described in its official filings as financial intermediation except insurance and pension funding.

While Mr Flynn's name does not appear on the current Companies Office records for Chesterton, he confirmed that he was one of its non-executive directors.

Mr Flynn said gardaí visited his home in Cabra, north Dublin, and his office in Harcourt Street in the city centre.

He said they took files and documents dealing with his non-executive directorship of the company. It emerged yesterday that Mr Flynn's brother, Mr James Flynn, a Dundalk-based broker, has a business relationship with Chesterton.