What’s the connection? The Irish Times reports:
It is not clear why Turner, a British national whose mother was from Cork, wants to have an Irish passport. Turner was a director of a number of Irish companies, and took up residence here during the 1990s when he was seeking to promote a hotel, conference centre and casino project in the disused Phoenix Park Racecourse.
The project, promoted by the Sonas Consortium, would have involved very significant investment. The accounts of Ariadler Holdings, which managed the project, show that £2.33 million (€2.96 million) was spent on promoting it in the period from last 1993 to December 1995. However, it foundered when the government refused to issue a casino licence.
The setback did not arrest Turner’s career. In 2005 Midia had plans to float a company called First Croatia Properties (FCP) on the London Stock Exchange’s Alternative Investment Market. However, the flotation was cancelled after the company said a US-based fund had subscribed €83 million, more than FCP was seeking to raise on the markets.
Midia is currently involved in a large biotechnology park project in Croatia.
British Companies Office files show that in 2003 John Patrick Mara, son of the former Fianna Fáil press officer PJ Mara, was appointed a director of Midia Investments Ltd. The other directors of the company were Louise Turner and Steven Turner, understood to be Turner’s daughter and son.
The company was dissolved a few years later, seemingly for failing to lodge accounts. It is not clear that it ever traded.
PJ Mara acted as press officer for the Sonas consortium in the 1993/1995 period, having resigned his position with Fianna Fáil.
We all know who Mara had close connections to, and more recently was still involved in helping Fianna Fail get re-elected. We should also not forget what Judge Flood had to say about Mara.
Second interim report: 10-02
During the course of his employment as a Press Secretary, his financial remuneration was not sufficient to meet his immediate financial requirements, and he experienced financial difficulties. He said he received assistance from his friends, Mr. Oliver Barry and Mr. Dermot Desmond, in the form of loans. There was no formal structure to these loans. There was no interest charge, nor was there any fixed schedule for repayment. Those making the loans did not intend that the sums advanced would be treated as gifts by Mr. Mara, but were content to receive their money back, once Mr. Mara was in a position so to do.
Yea. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? I wonder Ahern got the idea…
In relation to Century Radio, it was alleged by James Stafford:
1. Mr. Oliver Barry had informed him in 1988, prior to the issue of the franchise to Century by the IRTC, that there was a rumour at the time that Mr. Burke and Mr. Mara expected to receive payment of £90,000 for the independent television licence, £75,000 for each of the Dublin radio licences, and £25,000 each for the local radio licences;
2. Mr. Stafford had indicated that Mr. Barry informed him in 1990 that Mr. Mara was seeking a sum of £30,000 from Century; and
3. Mr. Stafford had been requested to pay £30,000 to Mr. Mara by Mr. Dermot Desmond in September 1990.
So the Tribunal did a trawl on Mara’s accounts post 1988. They sought details of all accounts held within or without the State after 1988. Mara responded with a schedule of accounts. But woe was he, he “forgot” to mention the Pullman Limited accounts on the Isle of Man.
Flood didn’t think much of Mara’s story:
10-11 The details of this company available for inspection by the public at the Companies Office would not have revealed any connection between this company and Mr. Mara. However, it was the case that Mr. Mara was the beneficial owner of this company and that his interest was held in trust for him by a trust company called Europlan Trust Company (Isle of Man) Limited (Europlan Trust).
10-12 Europlan Trust transferred funds from the Isle of Man to the account of Mr. Mara and his wife, at Bank of Ireland Private Banking, and it was named as the transferor in the record of this transfer, which appeared in the body of his Bank of Ireland monthly statement of account for the month of March 1994. This statement was included in the documentation which had been provided to the Tribunal, not only by Mr. Mara, but also independently by Bank of Ireland.
10-13 The existence of Mr. Mara’s offshore account in the Isle of Man had not been revealed in either of the affidavits of discovery sworn by him, or in subsequent correspondence. The first acknowledgement by Mr. Mara of the existence of the Pullman account was ultimately made to the Tribunal in the days leading up to the taking of his oral testimony before the Tribunal in July 2001. By way of explanation for his prior non-disclosure of this account, Mr. Mara told the Tribunal that he had forgotten about it, and was reminded of it by the Europlan Trust reference in his Bank of Ireland monthly statement.
10-14 In view of the specific requirement imposed on Mr. Mara by the Order made against him for discovery of documents in connection with offshore accounts, the Tribunal believes that it is unlikely that he could have forgotten about the existence of an account which had been opened by him in the Isle of Man. This is manifestly so given the steps which would have had to be taken to form a company there and to maintain an account in that jurisdiction, given the level of turnover in the account between August 1993 and October 1997 and given the fact that Mr. Mara had used Pullman as a vehicle to bill for services within the jurisdiction as late as September 1997. The Tribunal does not accept Mr. Mara’s explanation for his failure to disclose this account to the Tribunal. In its review of the documentation discovered to the Tribunal by Mr. Mara, the Tribunal did not find any link between Mr. Mara’s financial affairs and any payment to him, which could be attributed to the franchisees of licenses issued for independent broadcasting from 1988 onward.
Ultimately the Tribunal could not reconcile the conflicts in evidence given in relation to these allegations. But it did make a finding concerning Mara’s accounts.
7-13 The Tribunal is satisfied that Mr. P.J. Mara failed to co-operate with the Tribunal by:
(a) Failing to provide the Tribunal with details of an account in the name of Pullman Limited, operated by him at Royal Bank of Scotland in the Isle of Man, when swearing his Affidavit of Discovery made pursuant to an Order of the Tribunal requiring him to discover, inter alia, any such account.
How close were Turner and Mara? What exactly was the nature of the relationship between Turner and Ahern? For what did Turner need an Irish passport? More and more questions…