A report from the Moriarty Tribunal has found that the former Communications Minister Michael Lowry assisted businessman Denis O'Brien in acquiring a mobile telephone licence in the mid-1990s.
The second and final report from the Tribunal of Inquiry has concluded it is 'beyond doubt' that Mr Lowry gave what it termed 'substantive information to Denis O'Brien, of significant value and assistance to him in securing the licence'.
The Tribunal report found that Mr Lowry displayed 'an appreciable interest' in the process and had 'irregular interactions with interested parties at its most sensitive stages'. It also found that Mr Lowry sought and received substantive information on emerging trends and made his preferences on the leading candidates known.
Read reaction to the Tribunal report here
The report also found that Mr Lowry proceeded to bypass consideration by his Cabinet colleagues and thereby not only influenced, but delivered, the result that Esat Digifone won the evaluation process which ultimately led to the licensing award. The report describes these matters as elements of Mr Lowry's 'insidious and pervasive influence' on the process.
The Moriarty Tribunal report says that the 'most pervasive and abusive instance' of Mr Lowry's influence on the awarding of the mobile phone licence to Esat Digifone was his action in withdrawing time from the Project Group, when they had requested an extension to their work because they were not convinced that Esat Digifone should be nominated as the winner.
The group had asked for extra time because they were confused about the weightings applied and how the result had emerged, and wanted an opportunity to revisit and review the evaluation.
Lowry rent bid 'profoundly corrupt'
The tribunal also found that Mr Lowry sought to procure unwarranted rent increases that over a seven-year period would have improperly enriched Ben Dunne.
The tribunal found that Mr Lowry sought to influence the outcome of an arbitration being conducted in 1995 in relation to the rent payable by Telecom Eireann for Marlborough House to a company owned and controlled by Ben Dunne.
The report concludes the matter was 'profoundly corrupt to a degree that was nothing short of breathtaking'. Ben Dunne has rejected the findings and has insisted he is not a corrupt businessman. He has said that if the tribunal feels he acted outside the law they should forward a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
He told Liveline on RTÉ that he would not run away from the allegations in the report and would defend himself.
The report comments on documents in the possession of Esat Digifone which were confidential correspondence between then Minister Michael Lowry and EU Commissioner Van Meirt.
The documents had made their way to the tribunal via Mr Jarleth Burke, who had represented Denis O'Brien's interests in dealing with the Commission and the Department. The tribunal said they were documents which Mr Burke had 'no business having in his possession'.
The documents contained 'sensitive information' on the weighting adopted by the Project Group. The report states that it is unable to conclude how the information on the weighting matrix adopted by the group was obtained by the company.
The report also summarises the cumulative payments made to Michael Lowry and says: 'In aggregating the known payments from Mr Denis O'Brien to Mr Michael Lowry, it is apposite to note that, between the granting of the second GSM licence to Esat Digifone in May 1996, and the transmission of £420,000 sterling to complete the purchase of the latter of Mr Lowry's English properties in December 1999, Mr. O'Brien had made or facilitated payments to Mr. Lowry of £147,000 sterling, £300,000 sterling and a benefit equivalent to a payment in the form of Mr O'Brien's support for a loan of £420,000 sterling.'
The report adds that the value of the sums mentioned, 'in today's terms, is obviously well in excess of the amounts transferred at the various times mentioned in this Report'.
The Moriarty Tribunal report says that during the period of the competition for the mobile phone licence and subsequent licensing negotiations, Denis O'Brien or his companies supported 14 Fine Gael fund-raising events, and contributed a total of £22,140 by way of donations to Fine Gael.
The report states that Mr Lowry, displayed 'an appreciable interest' in the process and had 'irregular interactions with interested parties' at what it terms 'most sensitive stages'.
The report says it 'finds it wholly incredible and inconceivable' that the GSM process was not raised and discussed at informal meetings between then Minister Lowry and Mr O'Brien.
The Tribunal says it 'rejects the evidence' of both men regarding a meeting they held in a Dublin pub after an all-Ireland final in 1995.