Haughey 'misused Lenihan funds'

 

Lenihan findings:Former taoiseach Charles Haughey "personally misappropriated" funds intended for his friend and colleague Brian Lenihan's liver transplant in the United States, the Moriarty tribunal has found.

In conclusions in the 700-page report published today, Mr Justice Michael Moriarty says it gives him "no satisfaction" to find

Mr Haughey "deliberately sought to raise funds in addition to what he knew or must have known was required to meet the cost of Mr Lenihan's treatment, and that he ultimately applied part of those funds for his own use".

The tribunal is satisfied that Mr Haughey, despite protestations of ignorance and lack of recollection, was fully aware of his pivotal role in all of these matters
Moriarty tribunal report

"No other conclusion can be reached by the tribunal in the light of the evidence heard," the report states.

Mr Justice Moriarty says Mr Haughey's attempts in his evidence to the tribunal to attribute responsibility to others in relation to the Brian Lenihan funds was "reprehensible".

The tribunal examined the operation of the Fianna Fáil leader's allowance account during its hearings, and the scope extended to the scrutiny of funds collected in 1989 for the late Mr Lenihan. Funds collected for the party in the context of that year's general election were also examined.

The report says there was "no proper or effective system put in place to record funds collected for the benefit of Mr Lenihan".

It finds that the "haphazard system" of collecting and recording of funds for Mr Lenihan "facilitated the misappropriation of funds by Mr Haughey" as did the determination that such funds should be lodged to the Leader's Allowance account.

Mr Haughey began a campaign to raise funds for Mr Lenihan in late May 1989, when he knew VHI would make an ex gratia payment of £50,000 towards the cost of Mr Lenihan's treatment. Mr Haughey knew the additional expenses to be met were in the region of £100,000.00. He nonetheless fixed £150,000.00 to £200,000.00 as the target figure to be raised, the report says.

"It is evident that Mr Haughey personally misappropriated the donation of £20,000.00 made by Dr Edmund Farrell for Mr Lenihan's benefit, and that he took a series of steps to conceal his actions, including the channelling of the proceeds of the cheque through the bank account of Celtic Helicopters Limited.

"Mr Haughey also personally misappropriated £25,000.00 contributed to the Lenihan Fund by Mr. Mark Kavanagh, on behalf of Custom House Docks Development Company Limited, when he remitted that cheque to the Fianna Fáil Party as a donation to party funds, while retaining a further £75,000.00 provided for that purpose by Mr Kavanagh."

Mr Justice Moriarty says Mr Haughey's evidence to the tribunal in relation to the funds raised for Mr Lenihan and the use of these funds for his personal benefit was "less than candid".

It was a very upsetting time...on balance Charles Haughey was very good to my father
Conor Lenihan, son of the late Brian Lenihan

"The tribunal is satisfied that Mr Haughey, despite protestations of ignorance and lack of recollection, was fully aware of his pivotal role in all of these matters and the tribunal considers that Mr Haughey's efforts to attribute responsibility to Ms [Eileen] Foy and to Mr Paul Kavanagh, amongst others, was regrettable and reprehensible."

Asked about the tribunal's findings in relation to her late brother's liver transplant, Fianna Fáil senator Mary O'Rourke said that chapter in her life was "closed".

"I don't want to go there again," she told RTE's News at One.

However, son of the late Brian Lenihan and Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs

Conor Lenihan said the findings regarding Charles Haughey and his father were "a very serious finding for the tribunal to make".

In an interview with Newstalk radio, Mr Lenihan said: "If anyone feels the money they gave was misappropriated or wrongfully spent, it's up to them to seek redress if they can.

"It was a very upsetting time...on balance Charles Haughey was very good to my father. This is the first time I've had to deal with this in such detail.

"If there were funds raised and they weren't dedicated to the purpose for which they were given, then obviously that's a matter for the people who gave the money, believing it may be spent in a particular fashion and then finding out it wasn't, they're the people who can comment on this.

"I was living in England and at the time my father wasn't very well... My father never held a grudge , he remained friends with Charles Haughey even after the presidential election [in 1990]. Charles Haughey did sack him, which was very upsetting at the time but Haughey had his back to the wall."