Ah. It is refreshing to see someone joining the dots.
You see, I only found out recently that Michael Wall withdrew £50,000 in cash from an account in Galway, some time after he sold the house to Ahern.
Why is this important? Suspected money laundering, using a house to do it. Of course no one is alleging that Ahern was involved in money laundering – but when you read this report it is exactly what springs to mind.
The Beresford Avenue house was purchased in March 1995. Wall is a native of Co Mayo now based in Manchester. He is a long-time supporter of Ahern’s who got to know Ahern during his visits to Manchester. Celia Larkin helped Wall identify the Drumcondra house, which the tribunal has been told was to be rented by Ahern, but to be available to Wall during his visits to Dublin.
Ahern’s solicitor, the late Gerry Brennan, acted for Wall when Wall purchased the house for £138,000. Wall took out a mortgage of £96,600. When stamp duty is included, Wall’s contribution to the house purchase comes to approximately £50,000, a sum that arises at both ends of the house purchase story.
In January 1995, Ahern withdrew £50,000 from his accounts in AIB O’Connell Street. He has said he used the money to buy £30,000 in sterling cash and that he kept it and the remaining Irish currency in his safe in St Luke’s. Over time he gave the money to Larkin, who was working on refurbishing the house Wall had purchased, Ahern has said.
No records have been found that show Ahern purchased £30,000 sterling in early 1995 and he did not mention the transaction until he was first asked about sterling lodgements by the tribunal during a private interview in 2007. Ahern cannot say where the sterling was purchased. If Ahern did not purchase the sterling, then the question arises as to the source of £30,000 sterling that was lodged by Larkin and Ahern to accounts in 1995.
In 1997, after the sudden death of Brennan, Ahern purchased the house from Wall for £180,000, which constituted a loss for Wall after costs. The men engaged separate solicitors for the transaction. The tribunal is expected to hear evidence later this year to the effect that Wall’s solicitor lodged the net proceeds of the house sale to an account of Wall’s in Galway on November 5th, 1997. A month later the sum of £50,000 was withdrawn from the account by Wall in cash. Wall has not been able to produce any records showing where the money went thereafter.
Evidence on these matters has yet to be heard, but nothing said to date has indicated that this sum turned up in Ahern’s accounts after it left Wall’s account. Ahern has said he has disclosed all his accounts to the tribunal.
The tribunal has discovered that Wall made a will during the period when he was the owner of the house in which he left the house to Ahern or, in the event of his demise prior to that of Wall, to Ahern’s two daughters. Ahern expressed amazement when told of this fact by the tribunal in private interview. Brennan acted for Wall when Wall made the will. If Wall had died, his life assurance would have paid the mortgage, and Ahern would have been left an unencumbered house.