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EX-TAOISEACH DIDN'T KNOW OF BEN'S GIFT; Paid to a friend tribunal hears.

Charlie Haughey has agreed to "tell all" about his relationship with Ben Dunne and an alleged gift of pounds 1.3million from the former stores tycoon.

Yesterday his barrister said it was "probable" the cash was paid into a Haughey account, managed by accountant Des Trainer.

But, senior counsel Eoin McGonigal told the Payments to Politicians tribunal, the ex-Premier didn't know millionaire Dunne had given the money to his friend Trainer, who died three years ago.

He said Mr Haughey wanted to clear his name without further delay. So while he would fight to prevent publication of a "confidential" memo written by Ben Dunne's solicitor Noel Smyth, if the tribunal ruled it be admitted in evidence he would not impede it by appealing to the Supreme Court.

The former Fianna Fail leader, subpoenaed 10 days ago at his pounds 2million home in Kinsealy, North Dublin, wants a further week to go through all the documentary evidence.

But he has promised to take the stand next Monday to clear his name.

Until now he has refused to co-operate with the hearing and has consistently denied receiving cash from Dunne.

Mr McGonigal told tribunal boss Judge Brian McCracken his client had documents which would prove he knew nothing about the payments.

They would also prove that three bank drafts made out to fictitious people by the supermarket boss were not "personally" received by Mr Haughey. The barrister indicated Mr Haughey would ask for the Smyth memo to be withheld because it detailed confidential conversations and was thus inadmissible.

Mr Smyth says notes, made after five secret meetings with Mr Haughey, contain details of conversations about the cash gift his boss says he gave Mr Haughey when he was Taoiseach and which the politician denies receiving.

Yesterday the hearing was told how Des Trainer as boss of Dublin merchant bank Guinness-Mahon had up to pounds 40million of clients' money including Haughey's under his control. Funds were kept in various accounts in a company called Ansbacher.

Trainer and assistant Padraig Colleary were the only staff who knew whose money was involved and they used secret codes to disguise how much was kept and where it was lodged.

Cash Dunne gave Trainer was put into accounts in the Cayman Islands tax haven in the name of banker John Furze. He is trying to block access to information.
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Author:Kierans, John
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 1, 1997
Words:392
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