While Bart Ahern was signing books of blank cheques and CJ Haughey was stripping the Fianna Fail election donation war chest, an accountant named Frank Murray was signing 12 million pounds worth of blank cheques for another heartless con man, Finbarr Ross; (see the second part of this page)
Some comments on the Ansbacher Report (placed before the Dail in 2002.)
"What has angered taxpayers most is that all this tax evasion was going on, not just at a time when they were being asked to bear a grossly disproportionate share of the tax burden, but also at a time when they were being asked to accept cutbacks in key services on which they and their families depended in the national interest, cutbacks that hit the old, the sick and the handicapped."
"It is even more disturbing that this criminal conspiracy to evade tax occurred when PAYE workers were required to pay penal rates of personal taxation to keep essential public services, such as health, education and welfare, operating. Even after it emerged in the late 1970s that workers and their families were paying the vast bulk of taxation, and trade unions took to the streets to demand urgent reforms, few people could have comprehended the sheer level of tax evasion illustrated by this report."
"I warmly commend the Tánaiste, Deputy Harney, who, as Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, pursued this matter with diligence and determination since the autumn of 1997"
"The Ansbacher operation, although an illegal criminal conspiracy, operated from a number of Dublin locations, famously between 1987 and 1994 from Des Traynor's chairman's office in the Cement Roadstone Holdings offices at 42 Fitzwilliam Square."
'Mr. Byrne was the lead examiner for the Central Bank in the 1976 inspection of Guinness & Mahon and he and his colleagues had the distinct impression that the back to back loans appeared to involve a system of blatant tax evasion. In one of the countless ludicrous aspects of this affair, the examiners were given sight of copy security documents but were requested not to note the names in which the deposits were held."(by whom.. Haughey?)
"Astonishingly, the 1978 inspection discovered that a director of the Central Bank, Mr. Ken O'Reilly-Hyland, had a large loan secured by a deposit of £230,000 in Cayman."
"It is hardly satisfactory, notwithstanding the extent of the criminal conspiracy involved, that the Revenue Commissioners were unable to detect this scheme. In all probability, it would still be in operation had Mr. Ben Dunne not got himself into a little local difficulty in Florida in the early 1990s"
"The Labour Party remembers well the vicious opposition from the Progressive Democrats and Fianna Fáil when the then Minister for Finance, Deputy Quinn, tried to introduce section 153 of the Finance Bill, 1995. As Deputies will remember, the section placed an obligation on professionals such as accountants and solicitors to report any wrongdoing they came across. However, the present Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy McDowell, derided the section as a "snitchers' charter" and tried to condone unlawful behaviour on spurious constitutional grounds. His colleague, the new Minister for Transport, Deputy Brennan, wailed about section 153 amounting to "KGB-style tactics to collect taxes".
"During this period, the Labour Party and its allies on the Irish Left suggested there was in existence a golden circle of rich individuals and their professional advisers who conspired to defraud the State of legally due and necessary taxes. We were laughed at by right wing commentators and ridiculed by Ministers of Governments led by Charles J. Haughey who insisted time after time that there was no pot of gold to be shared by the poorest in our society whether through better services or reduced taxes."
"People are rightly upset when they find that a significant number of very wealthy individuals can earn a living in Ireland but do not pay tax here. We note some very prominent people who are not tax resident in this State, yet appear at social functions on a regular basis."
"However, what cannot be ignored is that the list of those named in the Ansbacher report represents an alarming cross section of the Irish business and professional community - old money and new money, Anglo-Irish and native Irish - many of whom are closely associated and involved in the Fianna Fáil Party and a number with Fine Gael. Directors of the two biggest newspapers in the country, solicitors and accountants, hoteliers and architects, builders and property speculators, board members of some of the country's biggest and most powerful companies and people who have been asked to serve on the boards of State companies. A cross section of Irish business society that might once have been described as the "great and the good" might more accurately be described as the "greedy and the grasping" in light of what we now know."
"Corporate donations are still allowed to parties. This creates a nod and wink climate. It suggests that if one is involved in business in the State, such as providing services worth hundreds of millions of euros, perhaps the best financial advice is to invest €50,000 in a corporate donation to a political party. Our political climate has not changed and we still have a lot of the problems in politics which created the climate in which these events occurred."
'There is little or no public analysis of the financial conditions being set for the so called "Public -Private partnerships, or the economic arguments in favour of such partnerships. The argument made is that certain information cannot be published for competitive reasons or because it is confidential business information, but this is public money. We are entering into multi-million euro deals with no independent analysis as to whether the State is getting the best deal."
'Environmentalists throughout Ireland are well aware of what we perceive as the atrocious corporate governance in Cement Roadstone Holdings. We do not have to go far beyond the whole Glen Ding saga when £23 million worth of gravel and sand was bought for a song in very mysterious circumstances which should be examined immediately by the Moriarty tribunal."
"The report clearly shows the Ansbacher operation was accommodated by Cement Roadstone Holdings. This was quite open, with Ansbacher correspondence coming in with CRH mail and wads of cash being counted in the office and collected and delivered by CRH staff, yet Cement Roadstone Holdings expects us to believe it did not know what was going on. Apparently its key people, some of whom were account holders, knew about it as individuals but they did not know about it collectively. These CRH managing directors, chairmen and board members were being serviced in their Fitzwilliam Square headquarters by Des Traynor's private bank but they passed one another like ships in the night. This is a new and interesting definition of corporate responsibility."
"At the same time, the prisons were being filled with thousands of people, many of them drug addicts, who were involved in non-violent theft where the value of goods was often less than £100. For example, Garda statistics for 1993, the year of the last tax amnesty, show that there were 47,000 larcenies recorded. Almost 45% of those involved amounts of less than £100. Just under 63% of the thefts involved amounts of less than £200. There are no Garda statistics in this or any other year for tax crimes. The Garda do not even attempt to record it. A handful of gardaí have been seconded to the new Office of Corporate Enforcement."
Gibgate ,Fianna Fail , Finbarr Ross:" One Cork businessman, Cornelius Collins, told the inspector how he was advised by Stokes Kennedy Crowley to invest his money offshore and out of sight of the Irish tax authorities."
"Stokes Kennedy Crowley, now known as KPMG, is one of the largest accounting firms in Ireland and part of one of the largest accounting companies in the world."
Another member of that illustrious firm was one Declan Collins fundraiser for Fianna Fail in the early eighties, and a member of the elite polo set in the Phoenix Park.
Interestingly a less privileged group of offshore investors (mainly Irishmen based in the U.K. and residents of the North of Ireland,) paid some monies to Declan Collins- unwittingly and unwillingly around this time also.
They lost every penny of their savings in 1982 when a professional fraudster (Corkman, Finbarr Ross) took flight to Texas with an estimated 12 million pounds sterling of funds lodged with his Gibraltar based investment company International Investments Limited . Finbar attracted very few clients from south of the border,and if he ever wondered why, we now know that they all had much more secure and efficient banking facilities courtesy of Roadstone/Des Traynor..thank you. Most of his victims were people of modest means who had placed their retirement savings in his bank.
Many of the victims were irish expats who had lived and worked all their lives in England, where Finbarr learned how easy it was to persuade people to invest monies ,while he worked for a large life assurance company there, early on in his crooked career.
A high powered chartered accountant, called Declan Collins one of the principle partners with the aforementioned Stokes Kennedy Crowley", (the Haughey governments favourite accountancy firm) made millions in commissions and work placed its way by Fianna Fail. Declan and his wife Vera were also in charge of Fianna Fail fundraising.! No favours given or expected of course.
Declan, like Finbar Ross, like Charles Haughey ,was a member of the horsey set, Dublin's privileged Phoenix Park polo club. Collins and his pal, Barrister Colm Allen, became very involved with a small group of North of Ireland based brokers who were innocently recommending clients to the Finbar Ross scam (for high commissions from Finbarr, of course)
A group of these brokers-supposedly acting on behalf of their duped clients- managed to wrestle control of the official investigation into the collapsed IIL which began in Gibraltar, when the Ross's company was liquidated there.
The highly energetic Gibraltar government appointed Tim Reville who had immediately proceeded to pursue the 12 million pounds worth of assets which had moved to America with Finbar, was deposed by Allen, and his "Committee of Inspection"
From the moment the first Gibraltar based liquidator was replaced, the whole investigation ground to a halt.This may not be surprising as you learn more.
Dublin Based Chartered accountant Frank Murray now enter.
Frank Murray "shared" Ross,s office in Leeson Park from where the Gibraltar registered scam was effectively run. He was also International Investments Limited chairman.Frank approved several loans to himself and others via the Ulster Bank in Newry. None have ever been repaid. Murray appears to have no further involvement in the massive fraud.While Murray signed many of his cheques (Ross's) while he was abroad, it seems that he only became co-signatory as a favour and signed books of blank cheques without knowing what or for whom they were intended. All this he declared in an affadavit sworn before the Supreme Court of Gibraltar after the collapse of IIL.
Another apparently innocent party in the scam was Oliver Conlon, Ross's solicitor and polo club pal who also received personal loans from IIL.
Question: What other now well known "accountant" in Irish political circles signed blank cheques to facilitate a thief and a fraudster.(Hint he also stole money from the old, the sick, and the handicapped)
Bizzarely, one Paul Smithwick founder of the Progressive Democrats was also a listed shareholder along with Frank Murray in some of the labryntine maze of front companies which Finbarr Ross utilized ; such as Anchor Properties Ltd; Kenansville Limited: Shelmar investments Ltd;Centenary Investments Ltd and Davesco Ltd.
In January 1984 a group of investment brokers from the North went to visit Murray at 27 Leeson Park. the headquarters of IIL, alarmed at the growing developments such as non payment of interest to investors.
There they met the second "fall guy" in Ross's plot, an elderly Manx gentleman, (in poor health) named, Ronald Vincent.
Ronald was a social acquaintance of Finbar's based on the Isle Of Man. He was persuaded to become a non active co-director of IIL Gibraltar, (he was recovering from a heart attack at the time!) when Ross'sGibraltar based trustees solicitors resigned on foot of the gathering storm clouds.
At this meeting Murray told the stricken brokers that Ross was in the U.S.A., the money was gone, and Ross was not even a director if IIL !
Ronald Vincent then tried to transfer the dying entity that was International Investments Limited,from Gibraltar to the Isle of Man.!, as his banking licence was due for renewal and regulations had tightened up on the Rock.
Ross had operated a bank therefor 4 years without producing a set of audited accounts.(What country does that remind us of, until very recently)
The Manx authorities however declined to accept his business. In a statement to the Daily Telegraph reporter who was sniffing into the breaking scandal he declared;
"We have enough problems of our own. it seems a little unkind of people to come here just to collapse".
The "Elephants Graveyard" of offshore companies declined to accept the carcass. On June 12 1984 the company was wound up and Tim Revill appointed provisional liquidator by the Gibraltar authorities.
Frank Murray the "blank cheque" caretaker was absolved of all blame with the able help of a young aggresive,and ambitious Barrister named Colm Allen.
Colm Allen then managed to get himself elected as chairman of a " Committee of Inspection" which would "act with the liquidator" to pursue Ross.! The only pursuit they engaged in however, was the removal of the diligent Gibraltar liquidator Tim Reville who was vigorously pursuing Ross's stolen assets (most of which were now invested in America-in his own name of course). They succeeded in removing Reville, after rumours and slurs blackening his character were passed around the investors. there were stories circulating (and circulars from Mr Allen) suggesting Reville was incompetent and wasting the investors money.
(The only monies Mr Reville had access to at this time was a 100,000 pound allocation from the Gibraltar regulatory authorities to initiate proceedings again Ross.)
Allen then " recommended to their man, the new Gibraltar liquidator (a pliable, and ineffectual gilly , one James Galliano) that Finbarr Ross's old polo club buddy Fianna Fail fundraiser Declan Collins be appointed to supervise the Irish end of the liquidation.!
The liquidation was now in the hands of the brokers responsible for the investment of the public's money in the scam, and Declan Collins- Finbarr Ross's old polo playing buddy!
What little monies was left on the carcass of Ross's assets in irish jurisdiction was quickly swallowed up by Collins and Allen, and the hapless investors got-yes you guessed it - nothing.
2nd December 06: Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and his Dublin Central constituency held the traditional annual Christmas constituency bash at Clontarf Castle. The party gives the Taoiseach the chance to relax away from the glare of publicity and surround himself with the nearest and dearest of the party faithful, not to mention a few prominent property developers and other friends in high places.
He was among friends. Hoteliers Jim Mansfield and John Glynn arrived together, with Mr Mansfield joking in the double negative: "I've no money for nothing."
Developer Sean Dunne was joined at his table by his wife Gayle Killilea.
Publican Charlie Chawke and his wife Bernice were given a warm welcome by the Taoiseach. And talking of developers, also present was Patrick Byrne and his wife Marian.
Barrister Colm Allen arrived with solicitor Michael Kelly and joked that he was simply popping into the Castle for dinner.
Barrister Colm Allen defended the Bailey Brothers at the Moriarty Tribunal.
Barrister Allen has grown fat indeed on Fianna Fail commissions, since his early days when he effectively hijacked the investigation into-no not Charles Haughey- but another high profile thief, and one of the golden horsey set in the Phoenix park Polo Club,-one Finbarr Ross.!
Barrister Colm Allen left a few disappointed house purchasers when he decided to cancel the sale of his lavish modern home on Ailesbury Road, in December 2006,just hours in advance of the auction. There was strong interest in the house, which had been guided at €7m by Sherry FitzGerald. However, the property may well come up again, and given the way things are going on the road, the price can only go up.