The number of complaints received by the ethics watchdog last year which related directly to Tipperary North TD Michael Lowry is 388
THE number of people being sent to jail for failing to pay paltry court fines has soared by 25 per cent in just two years. read full article
A HIGH Court judge has cleared the way for aggrieved customers to initiate private criminal prosecutions against bank staff. read full article
INDEPENDENT MEP Nessa Childers, who resigned from the Labour Party last week, has sensationally claimed that she was subjected to a campaign of “overt bullying” by senior part read full article
* ‘Quality in preference to quantity’ and ‘evidence of value for money’ must be the two ‘vitals’ for a reformed new government. read full article
MORE hairshirt budgets are in prospect after the Central Bank urged the Government not to let up on austerity and Finance Minister Michael Noonan admitted next year’s cuts and taxes wil read full article
Where Lies the Morale Compass of Denis O’Brien
In Relation to the Moriarty Tribunal, the cards are on the table.
Judge for yourself
March 2010, a judicial tribunal found that a former minister for communications, Michael Lowry, “secured the winning” of the 1995 mobile phone license competition for Denis O’Brien’s Esat Digifone. The tribunal also found that O’Brien made two payments to Lowry, in 1996 and 1999, totalling approximately £500,000, and supported a loan of Stg£420, 000 given to Lowry in 1999. In his 2,348-page report, Mr. Justice Michael Moriarty found that the payments from O’Brien were “demonstrably referable to the acts and conduct of Mr. Lowry” during the licence process, acts which benefited Esat Digifone. In effect, O’Brien was trading in influence or ‘legal corruption’
Did O’Brien and Lowry behave in an ethical way in this matter
Let’s step back in time
The telecommunications company has been accused of giving gifts to a senior Antiguan government adviser who, along with an ambassador-at-large, have been suspended for allegedly making improper contacts with the tender’s board which is considering bids for the sale of the mobile department of the state-run utility company.
Senior adviser to the Minister of Communications Dean Jonas and Ambassador-at-large Dr Isaac Newton were suspended last month after Communications Minister Wilmoth Daniel said they met with the tender’s board in [an] attempt to influence the members to accept Digicel’s bid.
Once again, we see controversy in obtaining a licence from an O’Brien company
Where lies the moral compass of Digicel?
The licensing of mobile network operators has occurred in an unstructured, random fashion that defies explanation. Ownership has been obscure and one suspects deliberately so with the aim of concealing nepotism and corruption
Prosecutors in the USA identified smaller operators, which had been bribing politicians and officials at Haiti Teleco, by way of shell companies, in order to get cheaper rates for calls. A series of convictions has resulted in over forty years of jail sentences. By means of money laundering charges, some of the recipients of the bribes have since been extradited and convicted resulting in jail sentences of up to 40 years.
In May 2006, Comcel and Haitel had about 500,000 subscribers – a cell phone coverage rate of 6% for a population of 8.2 million. Digicel entered the market in May 2006. After one year of operations, May 2006-May 2007, Digicel went from zero to 1.4 million subscribers. The two other cell phone providers in Haiti, Comcel, and Haitel, responded by cutting their prices and offering new services. As a result, Comcel and Haitel increased their subscribers from 500,000 to 1 million. As of April 2012, Digicel has about 3.5 million cell phone subscribers in Haiti. In May 2007, Digicel started offering two BlackBerry services with the Internet, one for enterprises and one for individuals. On March 30, 2012, Digicel has made the acquisition of Comcel / Voila, its main competitor in the Haitian market.
The question is was all of this possible without backhanders.
It was interesting to see that one of the witnesses who appeared in the High court defamation trial against the Irish Daily Mail was the Former Minister for Social Affairs in Haiti Ms. Josefa Gauthier she told the High Court she does not believe businessman Denis O’Brien’s relief work following the earthquake was an act. She said that Mr. O’Brien never sought to publicise his aid work.
Ms. Josefa Gauthier is also a former director of the Digicel Foundation (1)
The disappearing millions
MIAMI, USA – President Michel Martelly told the Haitian Diaspora community in Miami that the National Fund for Education, established in May 2011, had accumulated $16 million [US] and not a penny of it had been touched. Although in January of 2012, Digicel CEO Denis O’Brien said the fund had collected $20 million [US], and in October 2011, the then-Minister of Education said the fund had $28 million [US].
In this instance the magnetic field appears to be giving the compass some problems nevertheless the signs still point to dollars
The background of Josefa is rather interesting.
*Ms. Josefa Raymond Gauthier is the daughter of Adrien Raymond a former minister under Duvalier Government a regime well known for corruption and heavy-handed treatment of its citizens.
On the return of baby doc. Jan 16 2011 delegation of former officials who had served under his regime was waiting at the airport including the former foreign affairs minister Adrien Raymond and former presidential guard commander, the former Colonel Christophe Dardompré.
Current Haitian government links to old regime would bear scrutiny … Thierry and Gregory Mayard-Paul, whose father Constantin Mayard-Paul was a lawyer for Claude Raymond, a feared army lieutenant general under “Baby Doc.” Etc
It is interesting to note that Laurent Lamothe the current Prime Minister has a background in telecommunications
*Min. of Planning & External Cooperation 07/11/201
(1) Many large corporations have charitable foundations and no doubt do good work. It should also be noted that some of the most corrupt companies in the world also have charitable foundations which leads to an illusion that they must be on the road to the
FIANNA FÁIL LEADER Micheál Martin plans to call on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to reopen a module of Moriarty Tribunal for a three month period to allow it to examine new allegations concerning the Tipperary TD Michael Lowry.
Martin has said that information contained in a recording of a conversation between the former Fine Gael minister and property agent Kevin Phelan over details of a €250,000 payment “raises some very serious questions”.
“Primary among them is whether a central module of the Moriarty Tribunal was compromised by an effort to co-ordinate the evidence of key witnesses,” Martin said in a statement first printed in the Sunday Independent and provided to TheJournal.ie today.
The Taoiseach has already ruled out reopening the Tribunal and speaking in New York today he said that Justice Moriarty had reported “fully and finally” according to Newstalk.
The conversation between Lowry and Phelan is said to have taken place on 20 September 2004 and concerns a €250,000 payment to Phelan which Lowry pleaded with Phelan not to reveal as the independent TD had “never declared it”.
In a statement released following first publication of a transcript of the conversation in the Sunday Independent three weeks ago, Lowry insisted that the payment was “properly recorded and accounted for” through one of his companies.
He has since refused to confirm the authenticity of the tape recording and claimed he has been unable to obtain a copy of the tape from the Sunday Independent, which broke the story.
This contradicts claims from the paper which details attempts to get a copy of the conversation to Lowry in today’s edition.
Martin said that TV3 had been “inexplicably alone among Irish broadcasters” in broadcasting the audio recording of the conversation last Thursday night and said that the case for re-examining evidence presented to the Moriarty Tribunal had been emboldened.
In 2011, the Tribunal found that Lowry exerted an “insidious and pervasive influence” on the process of awarding a mobile telephone license to the Denis O’Brien’s company Esat Digifone.
However it made limited findings on matters concerning the sale of Doncaster Rovers Football Club, which involved Phelan, due to “suppression” of evidence. Both Lowry and O’Brien have rejected the findings of the Tribunal.
Martin said of the recording played on TV3: “The nuances which emerge, absent from the written transcript, add to the fear that the Tribunal’s work may have been compromised.”
The Fianna Fáil leader said that the reluctance of the Taoiseach to investigate the new allegations surrounding Lowry was “understandable” given “the proximity” he and other ministers have to the events which led to the Tribunal.
But he said that Labour’s silence is a “a stark reminder of that party’s weakness”.
He continued: “No political party in this country can point to an unblemished past, but those of us who want to build a better quality of politics for the future have a duty to speak out on this issue.
“Fine Gael and the Labour Party were elected with a record majority on a long list of promises. At the top of that list was a promise to change the way we practice politics.
“In that spirit, I will next week call on the Taoiseach to agree to have the specific module of the Moriarty Tribunal reopened for a period of three months to allow Judge Moriarty examine the new material that has emerged since he reported two years ago.
“If Fine Gael meant a word of what it said about the need for change, and if the Labour Party has a shred of integrity left, I expect unanimous support for this call.”
It centred on a 12 minutes 42 seconds phone call between the former Fine Gael Minister and Phelan, during which they discussed a sterling sum of £200,000 – £250,000 which the Sunday Independent says Lowry said he paid to Phelan, but said during the call: “I never declared it”.
The Moriarty Tribunal covered the investigation of payments to Lowry, whose company Garuda paid up to €1.2 million after a Revenue audit, while he also paid €200,000 in respect of settling his personal taxes.
This evening, Lowry released a statement about what he described as “extensive coverage of an alleged taped telephone conversation”.
My business dealings have been the subject of intense scrutiny over a prolonged period leading to several false and inaccurate reviews.
The payment referred to in the Sunday Independent was made by my company, Garuda Limited, on my behalf. That transaction was properly recorded and accounted for in the records and accounts of Garuda Limited. The payment referred to is fully tax compliant.
A deal made by Phelan on the sale of Doncaster Rovers was discussed during the tribunal, but it made limited findings on it due to the “suppression” of evidence, the paper says.
According to Lowry, the register at the UK Land Registry and company records “clearly show that I never had any direct or indirect shareholding or beneficial interest in Doncaster Rovers or its associated companies”.
I also confirm that I never had any material or beneficial interest in ‘Glebe Trust’.
The authors of the article said they had made multiple attempts to contact Lowry by text, phone calls, email and Facebook messages. Lowry said that he received no documentation on this matter before he left his Dáil office on Thursday.
I was un-contactable as I was travelling over the weekend. My constituency office is closed on a Saturday. The stake out at my property on Saturday and the incursion onto my private property was pointless.
The authors also said the paper handed over a copy of the recording and other documents and recordings to officers from the CAB.
Fianna Fáil Communications Spokesperson Michael Moynihan has called on the Dáil Deputy and former Fine Gael Minister Michael Lowry to quickly clarify the issues arising from the story.
Deputy Moynihan also called for the recording at the centre of the story to be forwarded to Judge Moriarty for examination.
Siteserv, what’s that? It’s an Irish company some of you mightn’t have heard about but which employs 900 people in Ireland who provide a wide range of services to public and private companies. Like installing Sky boxes for Sky or providing installation and maintenance services to the ESB – take a look at its services here. It’s a fairly profitable company – the latest accounts are here – but it has a mountain of debt built up during the Celtic Tiger era in acquiring other companies.
Why is Siteserv in the news? It has gotten into financial difficulty and is being sold. The latest is that 99% of Siteserv’s shareholders have just agreed to sell the company for €45m.
And what’s interesting about that? The buyer is a company called Millington, based in the Isle of Man, which numbers Denis O’Brien and Leslie Buckley amongst its owners. But there appears to be at least two competing offers for Siteserv for more than €45m – one for €52m from Anchorage and one for €60m from Altrad. We were also interested to find out that Dublin solicitors Arthur Cox were reported to have acted for both Siteserv and Denis O’Brien, though the company says it has procedures in place to deal with potential conflicts of interest.
But what is particularly interesting is that IBRC had given Siteserv a loan for €150m, but is set to get back less than €50m as part of the sale, and will write off the remaining €100m. And at the same time, the shareholders in Siteserv are set to pocket €5m. That turns the usual rules on debt on their head, normally the shareholders are wiped out first and secured lenders – which is what IBRC is understood to be in this case – tend to be top of the pile when it comes to prioritising repayment of debt. Remember Anglo in 2009 and the shareholders losing everything, but Anglo’s secured creditors, including senior bondholders, were repaid everything.
What has this to do with me? Well, you own IBRC, which is the company that merged Anglo and Irish Nationwide together. So YOU are writing off €100m – more than the €80m that has been collected from the controversial Household Charge – and at the same time shareholders are keeping millions.
But surely IBRC protects my interest. You’d think. After all, with annual rewards totalling €866,000 – about twice what the NAMA CEO gets – Mike Aynsley, the Australian CEO of Anglo must be a complete genius. And if anyone can protect our interests, he can. After all, that’s what he’s being paid so handsomely to do. Sadly to date, IBRC hasn’t defended its agreement with the €45m sale price, nor has it explained why shareholders walk away with millions while the taxpayer suffers a €100m loss. And before you conclude that this is a modern day version of Robber Barons stealing a company from under us, there has been a sale process ongoing for six months which has been overseen by KPMG and Arthur Cox, so we should expect some standard of probity.
Why doesn’t IBRC just appoint receivers to Siteserv? Indeed, a good question. Remember it was just a year ago that IBRC, or Anglo as it was known then, orchestrated the receivership of Sean Quinn’s companies. So it’s not as if IBRC hasn’t a track record of appointing receivers to insolvent companies. There are suggestions that Siteserv would lose several contracts if it were placed in receivership but these have not been publicly addressed.
And Denis O Brien, he’s the wealthy businessman that’s as crooked as a dog’s hind leg? Although the Moriarty Tribunal report last year had unkind things to say about Denis O’Brien and politician, Michael Lowry, both rejected the Tribunal’s findings which don’t have the force of legal judgments, and since then, neither the Gardai nor Director of Public Prosecutions seem to have picked up the baton offered by the Tribunal report to initiate criminal investigations. So, innocent he stands. Beyond that, he’s Ireland’s richest man having had a great start with the controversial Esat deal which the Moriarty Tribunal investigated, but he has gone on to make billions in mobile telecoms in the Carribbean and Pacific. And on the positive side, he made a huge contribution to the recovery of Haiti after the calamitous earthquake and he is regularly honoured for his philanthropy. And he’s a pal of president Bill Clinton, one of Ireland’s greatest friends but a man with his own past – thinking more of his presidential pardons than the Lewinsky affair. Welcome to the 21st century where we need get used to dealing with two-dimensional characters, though in the case of Denis O’Brien, he rejects the suggestion of an untoward second dimension as set out in black-and-white in the Moriarty report.
And is there any chance that Denis might buy the company for €45m – which will involve us taking a €100m writedown on what we are owed by Siteserv – and then a couple of months later, sell the company for €52m or €60m? There’s certainly a chance!
Tomorrow: Denis O’Brian and Media Ownership
I often wonder if O’Brian’s operation motto is, “who do we reach? What do we pay?”
One suspects when it comes to cutting a deal the bold Denis may have more than just have a passing acquaintance with *P2P etiquette.
March 2010, a judicial tribunal found that a former minister for communications, Michael Lowry, “secured the winning” of the 1995 mobile phone license competition for Denis O’Brien’s Esat Digifone. The tribunal also found that O’Brien made two payments to Lowry, in 1996 and 1999, totaling approximately £500,000, and supported a loan of Stg£420,000 given to Lowry in 1999. In his 2,348-page report, Mr. Justice Michael Moriarty found that the payments from O’Brien were “demonstrably referable to the acts and conduct of Mr. Lowry” during the licence process, acts which benefited Esat Digifone. In effect, O’Brien was trading in influence or ‘legal corruption’
The Moriarty Report states that it is ‘beyond doubt’ that Michael Lowry imparted substantive information to Denis O’Brien that was ‘of significant value and assistance to him in securing the licence’.
It states that documentation, which contained ‘sensitive information’, was found in files in the possession of Esat Digifone. The report states it is unable to conclude how the company obtained the information on the weighting matrix adopted by the project group.
The report states that Michael Lowry displayed ‘an appreciable interest’ in the process and had ‘irregular interactions with interested parties’ at what it terms ‘most sensitive stages’.
It also found that Mr. Lowry made his preferences on the leading candidates known.)
Forbes magazine said of O’Brian
“Despite coups, corruption, and kidnappings, Denis O’Brien keeps pouring money into the world’s poorest, most violent countries. His bet: Give phones to the masses and they will fight your enemies for you.
Is it just one of those oddities of life that O’Brian just happens to likes doing business where corruption is endemic?
History would suggest that this is no mere coincidence.
Let us look at how some of the countries that Digicel operates in, and see how they stack up in terms of corruption
This first figure is the ranking position of the country. The number of countries measured is 176
The Corruption Perceptions Index scores countries on a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). While no country has a perfect score, score below 50, indicate serious corruption problems.
Haiti sits in 165th position, with a corruption index of 19
Papua New Guinea, 150 -25
Guyana, 133- 28
Jamaica 83- 38
Panama, 83- 38
El Salvador 83 – 38
Trinidad & Tobago 80- 39
Possible soon to be added to the Digicel list is Myanmar sitting in 172nd position with a corruption index of 16
O’Brien’s Jamaica-headquartered company, Digicel Group, began offering cheap cell phone service recently from Papua New Guinea. Razor wire and half-dozen guards carrying shotguns and pistols protect the Digicel office in Papua New Guinea.
The murder rate in this Pacific hellhole is one of the highest in the world. Corruption is also rife in PNG
Bermuda-incorporated Digicel was founded in 2001 and has operations in 28 countries in small markets in the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Pacific. Its main market is Jamaica where it has about a 75% market share and in June was fined by the regulator for anti-competitive behavior. In May, the Jamaican tax authorities raided its Jamaican offices.
*Pay to play
Tomorrow we will have a look at O’Brian’s good friend President Michel Martelly of Haiti that upstanding man of impeccable honesty
Mr Devitt Tansparency International Ireland
lack of action on the Moriarty tribunal’s findings has been blamed for Ireland slipping down a world ranking on corruption perception.
The group warns the results could hurt Ireland’s economic recovery by turning investors away, frightened by the idea that Government decisions are not been taken in a fair and equitable manner. “Small, open economies are much more exposed to reputational risk than their more powerful counterparts,” said John Devitt, chief executive of Transparency International Ireland.
The ranking is the lowest ever for Ireland and is an 11-place descent from just two years ago.
The index – which draws on surveys of experts and businesspeople – gives an assessment of a country’s political risk and is used by credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s as a way of measuring the potential for sovereign debt default.
The Moriarty and Mahon tribunals showed how corruption and payments to politicians existed at Government level, while the lack of holding people to account was having an effect on how the country was perceived, the group said.
“There appears to have been very little action taken on foot of the publication of the final Moriarty tribunal report, while the Taoiseach’s decision to make public appearances with Denis O’Brien after the publication of the report will have done our international reputation no favours,” said Mr Devitt.
Countries topping the index are Denmark, Finland and New Zealand – all jointly tied in first place. Other European states ahead of Ireland include Switzerland, the Netherlands, Iceland, Luxembourg, Germany, Belgium, the UK and France. Uruguay is ranked 20 while the Bahamas is ranked 22. Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia all rank at the bottom, in 174th place.
The group urged the Government to bring more transparency to the public sector, along with reforms to give the Oireachtas more powers. “Our reputation for cronyism and other forms of corruption will drive many honest businesses towards more open and well regulated economies’, Mr Devitt added.
Transparency International Ireland in 2009 estimated the Government could be losing €1 billion a year in investment from abroad because of its relatively low position in the index, which then was 14th place.
The Moriarty tribunal in 1997 began investigating payments to politicians. It found businessman Denis O’Brien made payments to former minister for communications Michael Lowry, who “secured the winning” of a mobile phone licence in 1995 for him. Both men deny the finding
Complaints had been lodged after an investigation by the Irish Examiner discovered that he was the part-owner of land in Wigan which, at the time, was not listed as part of his declaration of interests.
Last Tuesday, however, Lowry added the land – which he maintained was still of “negligible value” – to his Register of Dáil Interests in response to “wildly inaccurate speculation regarding its value.”
A decision on whether the near-300 complaints will be referred to the Members’ Interests Committee of Dáil Éireann is pending legal advice, however.
Responding to TheJournal.ie, the spokesperson said:
Following further consideration the Clerk of the Dáil is seeking legal advice on the matter. Accordingly the Clerk of the Dáil is not in a position to make a decision at this stage as to whether the complaints should be referred to the Committee on Members’ Interests . He expects to be in such a position shortly.
Reasons for complaints not being forwarded would be if the Clerk determined them to be “frivolous or vexatious or that there is ‘not sufficient evidence to establish a prima facie case in relation to the complaint’.”
In cases where the complaint is rejected for the reasons outlined above, “the Clerk is obliged to send the complainant, the member concerned and the Committee a statement of the reasons for so doing.”
Doing the rounds at the minute….
(Q) What is Sean Quinn’s favorite pub?
(A) Break for the border.
eamonncork – November 4, 2012
Look, Quinn had to be taken to court in 2005 to make him grant a 39 hour working week and proper sick pay and overtime to workers in Quinn Cement. The workers were represented by SIPTU because they were afraid to reveal their identities for fear of victimisation. That’s who Sean Quinn is, that’s what he stands for and always stood for, the right of the local big man to do what he wants.
The main movers in the CIC are also representatives of this gombeen man tendency, they support Quinn for he same reason that Michael Lowry’s supporters support him, a combination of local loyalty and sycophancy. I don’t imagine those Cement workers are out marching for him so his backers are indeed ‘in ways removed from the classic working class.’
Recently a large number of people marched in Skibbereen to protest the reduction of the local ambulance service to a skeleton level. People march about issues like this all the time in Rural Ireland.
I’d have to say that the contortions engaged in by apparently sane people to try and extend some understanding to Quinn and his supporters are the most ludicrous thing I’ve ever read on the CLR, ‘it’s abour profit redistribution’ ‘socialists should support him,’ ‘it’s about bank corruption.’
In the name of Jesus, lads, if someone like Sean Quinn isn’t antithetical to everything ye stand for, who are you left with? Kevin Myers?
The court has published its reasons for allowing a case to go ahead by two competing consortia who are seeking compensation.
They allege there was fraud and corruption in the way the licence was awarded.
Between them the consortia are taking actions against former minister Michael Lowry, East Telecom, Denis O’Brien, Ireland and the Attorney General.
The State parties secured High Court orders stopping the cases on the grounds of delay, but last July the Supreme Court ruled the actions could go ahead.
Today, they published their reasons.
Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman said the integrity of Ireland as well of the consortia required a trial of their claims of corruption, which they were alleging took the form of bribes.
He said such things, if true, would be utterly disgraceful, destructive of the reputation of both the briber and the person bribed.
If proved, it would be a commercial and political disgrace of the highest order and would disgrace the nation and the State, he said.
The judges said the consortia had been entitled to wait for the outcome of the Moriarty Tribunal before bringing their actions.
Businessman Declan Ganley‘s Comcast International Holdings Incorporated and Persona Digital Telephony Ltd had initiated separate actions in 2001 challenging the licence award and claiming multi-million euro in damages.