Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Bertiegate & CAB

What would the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) make of the emerging facts and allegations concerning the sequence of events which are now being generically referred to as “Bertiegate”?

The claim that our then Minister for Finance was operating on a cash-only basis for several years in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
CAB would identify this as a standard ploy to remove any risk of creating a money trail which might subsequently be used to expose corrupt payments and their source. In The Sopranos, Tony Soprano routinely kept large quantities of cash concealed in his garden compost container. Bertie supposedly kept his in a safe somewhere an claims to have saved £50k in cash which ultimately went to the purchase of his house.

Michael Wall was the owner of the house.
Wall was accompanied by Celia Larkin in viewing the house before he bought it.
In December 1994, he gave Celia Larkin Stg£30k for refurbishment expenses (on a 3 year-old house) and stamp duty(?).
Then Michael Wall made a will leaving the house to Bertie Ahern, even though he himself was married with a family.
CAB might conclude that Michael Wall was, in fact, acting as agent for Bertie Ahern who may have always been the beneficial owner of the house, even though it was purchased in Wall’s name. The making of the will in favour of Ahern would seem to be a significant pointer in this direction.
Purchasing assets with hot cash using a third party to front the transaction and then buying the asset back in the name of the real owner, using a legitimate mortgage is also a standard mechanism for covering the expenditure of hot money.

That Bertie’s dig-out was a whip-round among personal friends.
NCB MD Padraig O’Connor, who contributed £5k, has denied this version of events. According to O’Connor he was asked by Des Richardson for a political contribution towards the running costs of Ahern’s constituency office. Yet this money turns up as part of Bertie’s own personal cash hoard.
CAB might point out that confusing party funds with personal monies appears to have been a trait among senior members of Fianna Fail at that time - Charles Haughey, Ray Burke, Padraig Flynn to name but a few.

The claim attributed to Garda Fallon that Bertie Ahern carried a briefcase full of cash, earlier withdrawn from a Dublin bank by Celia Larkin, to Manchester in 1994.
CAB might point out that sending cash round in circles is a classic part of the money laundering cycle. You give money to an offshore third party, sometimes a bank, who then lends it back to you. If queried, you have an explanation as to where the money came from, but the lender is outside the jurisdiction and not amenable to questioning by the authorities.

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