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Irish premier refuses to explain how he saved euro60,000 without a bank account

Irish premier refuses to explain how he saved euro60,000 without a bank account

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern refused to explain Wednesday how he saved more than euro60,000 (US$75,000) without a bank account, as opposition leaders leveled new criticism at him for accepting secret payments from 39 businessmen.
One of them is allegedly the previous owner of Ahern's Dublin home.
Ahern has been on the defensive ever since The Irish Times newspaper published details of money he received in 1993 and 1994, when Ahern says business friends gave him unsolicited loans and gifts following an expensive separation settlement with his wife.
As part of his partial explanations, Ahern on Tuesday offered a qualified apology for how he handled the approximately euro60,000 (US$75,000) in undeclared loans and gifts _ and also confirmed that he separately saved about 50,000 Irish pounds (euro63,500, US$80,500) from his salary by 1993.
However, Ahern said he had no bank account at the time for handling any of the cash. Under questioning from opposition chiefs Wednesday, Ahern refused to shed any light on where he kept his money in the early 1990s, when he was both Ireland's finance minister and the treasurer of Fianna Fail, Ireland's long-dominant political party.
"It is simply incredible that a minister of finance for the day, who didn't have a bank account, is still in position to put together over 60,000 euro savings," Enda Kenny, leader of the opposition Fine Gael party, said to Ahern during the debate in Dail Eireann, Ireland's parliament.
Ahern also declined to answer a question from Pat Rabbitte, leader of the opposition Labour Party, on why he paid tax on unspecified gifts in the 1993-94 period. Rabbitte said the prime minister's admission raised suspicions that he received other, still-undeclared cash donations.
Ahern also rejected media reports that he intended to provide a full list of the 27 businessmen who gave him 8,000 British pounds (about euro12,000, US$15,000) at a dinner in Manchester, England, in October 1994.
"I can't do it," Ahern said, explaining he didn't remember who most of the money-givers were. He named just two, one of whom is deceased.
However, Ahern pledged that he had granted no favors to any of the businessmen, whoever they were, in exchange for their money.
Later, Ahern claimed victory in the showdown with opposition chiefs, who had called for him to resign _ and still hope to oust Fianna Fail from power in a mid-2007 election.
"I always thought I was in the clear," Ahern told reporters in Templepatrick, Northern Ireland, where he delivered a speech to businessmen.
But new criticisms emerged Wednesday night. Both Fine Gael and Labour politicians accused Ahern of not telling the truth about his knowledge of one Manchester donor, Micheal Wall, who later sold Ahern his current home. They said it was implausible for Ahern to claim he couldn't identify Wall as a 1994 benefactor.
"This new development is truly bizarre," Fine Gael lawmaker Fergus O'Dowd said.


Updated : 2021-05-19 08:50 GMT+08:00