The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, has finished his first day of evidence at the Mahon Tribunal.

During this afternoon's proceedings, it was revealed that it was not apparent until April of this year that foreign exchange transactions were involved in a number of lodgements.

In March of this year the Mahon Tribunal was still dissatisfied with the information it was receiving from Bertie Ahern regarding his personal finances.

Only in April, when a private face-to-face meeting between Mr Ahern and the tribunal's legal team occurred, did it become apparent that there was a foreign exchange aspect to the lodgements into which the tribunal is inquiring.

It was also revealed today that a High Court action taken by Bertie Ahern prevented the tribunal from looking into the details of his martial separation.

Bertie Ahern defended his co-operation with the Mahon Tribunal, saying he made every effort to supply information requested by the inquiry. The tribunal threatened to issue a summons to force him to appear before a public sitting if information it requested was not supplied.

Earlier it was heard that a report by accountant Des Peelo claimed that during the period 1987 to 1993 Mr Ahern saved £50,000 which he kept in two safes at his constituency and departmental offices.

Bertie Ahern told the tribunal that he kept records of utility bills but kept no receipt of funds he received during the 1990s, responding to the tribunal's SC Des O'Neill he said, 'I had enough to do'.

He said the bank had provided records of the cash lodgements.

Opening statement

Mr Ahern took the stand at the tribunal in Dublin Castle at 10.30am. He made an opening statement, which lasted for more than 15mins.

In the statement Mr Ahern said that he never accepted a bribe in his 30-year career in politics. He said that during the life of the Mahon Tribunal it had failed to uncover any such evidence.

He referred to leaks to the media, some of which involved forged documents, and said they were designed to damage him politically and personally.

He said allegations by Tom Gilmartin that he received bribes from Owen O'Callaghan were false, commenting that he was still sore over some of the allegations, many of which he said had never entered the public domain.

He told the tribunal that he was seeking no special treatment and wished to be treated like any other witness.

Des O'Neill SC for the tribunal said at the beginning of today's evidence that the inquiry is presently concentrating on four lodgements connected to Mr Ahern involving foreign exchange which total around £85,000.

This morning Mr Ahern insisted that a lodgement of almost £30,000 in December 1994 was sterling and not $45,000 as claimed by the tribunal.


The tribunal began its inquiries into Mr Ahern's finances nearly two years ago, but it still does not believe the cash lodgements have been properly explained.

Mr Ahern has explained some of the lodgements by saying he purchased £30,000 in the O'Connell Street branch of AIB early in 1995, but the tribunal cannot find any record of this.

The tribunal is also interested in the lodgement of almost £29,000 by his former partner Celia Larkin in December 1994.

Mr Ahern said this was sterling from a Manchester businessman Michael Wall, while the inquiry says it seems to have been $45,000.

The Taoiseach has denied ever receiving dollars and said his unusual financial arrangements resulted from his marital break up.

The tribunal has now been adjourned until 10.30am tomorrow morning when Mr Ahern is scheduled to appear again.