By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — Details of the labyrinth routes used to channel cash to the personal bank accounts of former Taoiseach Charles Haughey are being forensically unraveled by the Moriarty Tribunal, which is methodically exposing who were the paymasters called upon to support his £1,000-a-day lifestyle in the late 1980s.
The previous McCracken Tribunal revealed Haughey’s main money-raiser, now deceased accountant and financial adviser Des Traynor, relied heavily on the largesse of department store magnate Ben Dunne, but he also had a golden touch in raising cash for one of his boss’s pet projects, his son’s helicopter company.
For the first time also, Haughey has been shown to have personally put the bite on wealthy colleagues and acquaintances to get cash for Celtic Helicopters, ostensibly run by his son Ciaran.
So far, the only person who appears to have turned a profit from putting money into the cash-hungry Celtic is former Ceann Comhairle and Health Minister Dr. John O’Connell.
Within weeks of joining Fianna Fail from Labor in 1985, the doctor was persuaded by Haughey to donate £5,000. He was later told the cash had bought him a shareholding and he agreed to cash it in for triple his initial investment on the day Haughey was ousted from power in 1992.
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John Barnacle, a Celtic director and pilot, told the tribunal that he and Ciaran Haughey each invested £60 when the company started in 1985. For this and their services they would own 60 percent. Traynor’s Guinness and Mahon Bank lent £80,000.
None of the investors who put about £80,000 into the company at that time for the other 40 percent ownership stake have yet to see a return on their money. They included meat exporter Seamus Purcell, tourism boss Joe Malone, and the late hotelier P.V. Doyle. Malone said that in 1994 he declined an invitation to become chairman of the company. After being asked by Haughey, he invested £15,000, but in the name of his son Joe Jr.
By 1992, Midas-man Traynor was again on the money-go-round for Celtic and raised more than £290,000.
Long-time property developer John Byrne invested £47,532. He built O’Connell Bridge House and several other major office developments in Dublin.
Xavier McAuliffe, a Kerry businessman and photo-lab entrepreneur, put in £50,000. Also a helicopter enthusiast, he owns a hotel in Dingle.
Pat Butler, who developed a major steel fabricating business in Portarlington, put in £25,000.
American Guy Snowden, whose G-Tech company installed the Lotto computer system, invested £67,000. A British jury decided last year he had attempted to bribe Virgin’s Richard Branson to withdraw a rival bid for running the British lottery.
Insurance broker Michael Murphy was involved in locating £100,000 for Celtic through a complex deal where a business colleague, David Gresty of DB Agencies in Monaco, made the investment.
American Cruse W. Moss also invested in Celtic. He was chairman of the General Automotive Corporation, which set up a joint venture bus-building operation in Shannon selling vehicles to CIE.
In 1987, the McCracken report found that Celtic Helicopters had received funds from the Ansbacher deposits to support debts on four occasions and in one case a bank loan was repaid our of the deposits.
The report cast doubt on Ciaran Haughey’s denial that he had any knowledge of the payments.