Deep pockets serve referendum player well

Mon, May 14, 2012, 01:00

ANALYSIS:The Coalition is likely to be more than a little concerned about Declan Ganley’s fundraising flair

THE ANNOUNCEMENT by businessman and serial referendum campaigner Declan Ganley that he is to urge people to reject the fiscal treaty will be unwelcome news for the Government.

War chests Ganley has managed to accumulate for previous tilts against government referendum propositions have been substantial.

He is a good media performer and the fact that opposition is not coming from the left-nationalist part of the political spectrum will also aid the No campaign.

One of the intriguing aspects of Ganley’s engagement with European politics over the years has been the obscure nature of his motivation.

In 2008, the year Ganley campaigned for a No vote in the first Lisbon Treaty referendum, his Libertas Institute had a turnover of €1.4 million, according to its filed accounts.

In 2009, when it campaigned against the second Lisbon referendum and Ganley ran for the European Parliament as a Libertas Party candidate, it spent €5.65 million. The organisation had an income of €3.2 million that year.

The following year, when there was little political activity, there was little income and the balance sheet recorded a deficit at the end of the year of €2.86 million.

Notes to the 2010 accounts said Libertas has secured third-party loans of €1.67 million, of which €1.4 million had been personally guaranteed by Ganley. They also indicate that he had been owed €243,456, but was now only owed €82,474.

It is figures such as these that send shivers down the backs of the people urging a Yes vote.

As a “third party” group Libertas is not subject to the same rules in relation to financial transparency (such as they are) that apply to political parties. In 2009 the Standards in Public Office Commission expressed its concerns about the lack of transparency governing the finances of groups like Libertas, but the law remains unchanged.

Ganley established the pan-European Libertas Party to contest the 2009 European Parliament elections and raised funds across Europe. He failed to get elected. After the election some in Libertas campaigns in Spain and the Netherlands complained about unfulfilled promises of financial support given by Ganley and Libertas.

He is chairman and chief executive of a US telecoms enterprise, Rivada Networks, according to its website. Its accounts are not available.

His Irish company, Ganley Corporate Management Ltd, had accumulated losses of €2.59 million at end 2010, the year of its most recently filing. It is owned by a firm called Golden Bay Holdings Ltd, which has an address in the British West Indies.

In January 2011, Ganley and the economist Constantin Gurdgiev, as well as UK Libertas candidate in the 2009 European elections Andrew Jamieson, established a financial firm in Switzerland called St Columbanus AG.

The company offered to assist people shift savings from euro zone countries to Swiss bank accounts.