Belfast Telegraph

Tycoon Denis O'Brien rejects corruption finding

By Brian Hutton and Ed Carty

One of the world's richest men has flatly denied making massive payments to a former Irish government minister accused of helping him secure a mobile phone licence that made his fortune.

Telecoms tycoon Denis O'Brien insisted he did not pass money through off-shore bank accounts to Michael Lowry, Ireland's former communications minister, who was found to have interfered with the granting of the licence in 1995.

“I never paid Michael Lowry one red cent,” said Mr O'Brien (52), who netted a vast fortune after BT bought out his Esat Digifone operator in a £2.1bn takeover.

Mr Lowry also dismissed the final damning findings of the Moriarty Tribunal — Ireland's longest-running such inquiry — that he attempted “profound and breathtaking corruption” and stained public life with his “cynical and venal abuse” of high office.

“This report is ultimately the opinion of the chairman and it has no basis in law,” Mr Lowry said.

In a 2,230-page report, tribunal chairman Judge Michael Moriarty found Mr O'Brien and Mr Lowry held talks at least twice during the tender process.

“It is beyond doubt that, in the case of the latter interaction, Mr Lowry imparted substantive information to Mr O'Brien, of significant value and assistance to him in securing the licence,” the Belfast-born judge said.

The tribunal compared Mr Lowry to the widely reviled former Taoiseach Charles Haughey.

“But in the cynical and venal abuse of office, the brazen refusal to acknowledge the impropriety of his financial arrangements with Denis O'Brien and Ben Dunne, and his contemptuous disregard for his taxation obligations, Mr Lowry displayed qualities similar in nature [to Mr Haughey],” the judge said.



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