The central point made by Bertie and his friends regarding ‘loans’ was that he was a man (and Minister for Finance) who was down on his luck. Marriage break up, huge expenses, no home – I mean, who wouldn’t have sympathy?
But, as with all things involving Irish politics, something smells. Vincent Browne had a poke at an interesting and possibly very smelly issue on his radio show last night. Here’s how he put it….
“When the Mahon Tribunal went to examine the claim by Tom Gilmartin that Owen O’Callahan had paid Bertie money in 1992, 1993, 1994 for refusing tax designation to Blanchestown which would have been a threat to the Quarryvale/Liffey Valley project.
When the tribunal went to investigate that allegation, they asked Bertie for his financial accounts and Bertie told them a number of things. Firstly, that he didn’t have any bank account in the period from 1987 to 1993. (An amazing fact, if we are to believe it)
Secondly, that he did open a bank account in late 93 or early 94 and when they looked at that, they saw three interesting payments in the account. One of them was for £50,000 (€64,000) the other for £38,000 (€48,000) and the other for £8,000 (Sterling) (€11,800).
We know about the £8,000, that was the Manchester money, we know about the £38,000, that is the money he supposedly got from his twelve friends, but the £50,000 he now says was savings from 1987 to 1993. (Was this £50,000 stuffed into his mattress?)
Now I think this is very curious and may be the most interesting issue at the heart of all this. We are asked to believe that he was able to save £50,000 at a time when tax rates were quite high, at a time when he was paid a good deal less than he is now. At a time when he had left home, presumably had to pay the mortgage, maintenance to the wife, maintenance to the children and finance himself. And he was able to save £50,000 during that time when he had no bank account according to himself.
Where did he put the money? What was going on?” — What indeed?