Michael Lowry: Echoes of tribunal as TD’s case begins
Lowry had told the High Court money received in 2002 was booked by his company in 2007
Michael Lowry TD at the Moriarty Tribunal at Dublin Castle. Photograph: Eric Luke
For those who have been watching the affairs of Tipperary TD Michael Lowry over the years, the opening day of his proceedings in the High Court featured some familiar individuals.
The Omagh-based businessman Kevin Phelan, whose name was cited regularly in the so-called money trail modules of the Moriarty tribunal, but who never gave evidence to it, was mentioned, as was Denis O’Connor, the Dublin-based accountant who dealt with Lowry’s affairs and was heavily criticised in the tribunal’s final report. Even billionaire businessman Denis O’Brien got a mention.
At the heart of the matter is a payment from Finnish company Norpe OY to Garuda in August 2002.
Lowry’s counsel, Patrick Treacy SC, told Mr Justice Séamus Noonan there was no dispute the €372,000 payment to Garuda was not recorded in Garuda’s books until 2007. Nor was there any argument this should have happened four years earlier.
It was also accepted that as part of the process of recording the payment, an invoice was drafted showing the payment as commission received in September 2006.
Lowry told accountants Neale O’Hanlon and Denis O’Connor to record the money in Garuda’s accounts, Treacy said. These men will be witnesses for the prosecution if a trial goes ahead.
The money, the court heard, was “diverted” in 2002 to a trust in the Isle of Man and to a bank account nominated by Phelan. Why this happened and what prompted Lowry four years later to tell his accountants to record the payment, was not mentioned. Lowry, after a multi-year engagement with Revenue, announced a settlement in March 2007.
All through this period he was busy with inquiries being made by the tribunal into his personal affairs, his dealings with O’Brien, and his treatment by Revenue.
The charges against Lowry arise from the treatment of a payment to his refrigeration business, but the backdrop is a larger canvas altogether.