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Tax evasion uncovered as Moriarty Tribunal publishes findings

Ireland's "Tribunal of Inquiry into certain Payments to Politicians and Related Matters", known as "The Moriarty Tribunal" has published its findings after 14 year investigation.

Ireland's "Tribunal of Inquiry into certain Payments to Politicians and Related Matters", known as "The Moriarty Tribunal" has published its findings after 14 year investigation.

The Tribunal was created in 1997 to investigate press allegations that businessman Ben Dunne had made substantial secret payments to former Fianna Fáil Taoiseach Charles Haughey and Fine Gael Transport and Communications Minister Michael Lowry.

After 14 years of investigation, the public inquiry revealed cases of tax evasion and alleged corruption by Irish politicians and leading businessmen.

The inquiry investigated payments to cabinet members in return for favours, use of offshore bank accounts by politicians and businessmen for tax avoidance, and the awarding of the second mobile phone licence to the Esat Digifone consortium in 1996, the biggest contract ever awarded by the Irish State to a private company.

The public inquiry had to be suspended in 2004 as mobile phone entrepreneur Denis O'Brien brought the Tribunal to the High Court trying to prevent investigations into his purchase of the Doncaster Rovers football club.

A number of businessmen and politicians investigated by the inquiry reacted with defiance to the findings claiming the Tribunal was biased and had vested interests.

The inquiry's recommendations are to be studied by the Irish Parliament, which is expected to introduce tighter controls of political donations.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the findings do "enormous reputational damage" to Ireland and asked for the Moriarty report to go further and be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

As a result of the public inquiry, the Irish tax authorities have recovered millions of Euro in settlements and penalties from a number of individuals.

The Tribunal's investigations lasted much longer than anticipated and cost the Irish State around €40 million in direct costs and legal assistance to witnesses, with final costs expected to exceed €100 million.

The Moriarty Tribunal's Report into Payments to Politicians and Related Matters can be downloaded from www.moriarty-tribunal.ie

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