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Irish Ex-Premier Ahern’s Money Explanation Untrue, Tribunal Says

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March 22 (Bloomberg) -- Former Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern explanations on the source of “substantial funds” he received were untrue, a government-appointed probe found.

The so-called Mahon Tribunal rejected evidence from Ahern, who denies any wrongdoing, that he built up 54,000 Irish punts ($90,282) between 1987 and 1993 through saving and gifts according to the inquiry’s report, published today. He also said he won money betting on horses.

“Much of the explanation provided by Ahern as to the source of the substantial funds identified and inquired into was deemed by the tribunal to have been untrue,” the tribunal found, stopping short of a corruption finding against Ahern.

The investigation effectively toppled Ahern from power in 2008, as the revelations about his finances forced him to step down after winning three successive terms in office. As part of a trawl through payments to politicians, the tribunal examined a claim that Ahern accepted money from a businessman to assist with a shopping mall in Dublin in the early 1990s.

“Because the tribunal has been unable to identify the true sources of the funds in question it cannot determine whether or not the payment to Ahern of all or any of the funds in question, were in fact made by or initiated or arranged, directly or indirectly,” by the businessman, the report said.

Ahern explained various payments into his bank accounts as being loans and gifts he received from friends in 1993 and 1994. These included a cash gift for making a speech to businessmen in Manchester, England, and money from friends to help with legal and housing costs after his marriage broke down.

Reviewing

Ahern is reviewing the report and will issue a statement in due course, the Irish Times reported today, citing a spokesman for the former leader.

The government will refer the report to police tax authorities and the director of public prosecutions, it said in a statement today. The tribunal was set up to investigate corruption involving the redesignation of land for development from the late 1980s to the late 1990s.

“Throughout that period, corruption was both endemic and systemic,” the tribunal found. “It affected every level of government.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Colm Heatley in Belfast at cheatley@bloomberg.net; Joe Brennan in Dublin at jbrennan29@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dara Doyle at ddoyle1@bloomberg.net

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