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Former Irish PM Bertie Ahern took secret payments and lied about it, panel finds

Bertie Ahern, Ireland's former Prime Minister, received at least €209,779 ($276,000) in secret payments while in office, lying about it repeatedly under oath, according to a judicial investigation.

bertie ahern 2012 3 23Enlarge
Outgoing Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern (L) and new Prime Minister Brian Cowen pictured attending the national commemoration for the leaders of the 1916 Rising at Arbour Hill in Dublin, Ireland, on May 7, 2008. (Peter Muhly/AFP/Getty Images)

Bertie Ahern, Ireland's former Prime Minister, received at least €209,779 ($276,000) in secret payments while in office, lying about it repeatedly under oath, according to a judicial investigation.

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Ahern's party, Fianna Fáil, said Friday that based on the inquiry’s damning findings it would expel him next week, along with a number of other party members, including corrupt former minister Pádraig Flynn, the Irish Examiner reported.

And according to the Irish Times, an Irish lawmaker has called for serving Fianna Fáil lawmakers who were members of former Ahern’s cabinet to "resign and retire from public life."

The call by Tipperary Independent Seamus Healy prompted a response by Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Dara Calleary, who said “all of us who seek to serve the public are sullied today by what is in that report," and asked: "Is it time once and for all to ban corporate donations?" 

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported that three judges led by Justice Alan Mahon stopped short of finding Ahern guilty of corruption when delivering their long-awaited findings on Thursday.

They said they had found no evidence that Ahern gave favors to his cash donors while finance minister in the 1990s.

However, they did find Flynn — a former European Union commissioner — and one other lawmaker guilty of corruption for soliciting payments from property developers. And they found 11 past and 11 present members of local councils guilty of the same offense.

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Prime Minister Enda Kenny has referred the Mahon Tribunal report findings — which are only a fact-finding effort and not evidence of criminal wrongdoing — to state prosecutors, the national police force, tax collection authorities and the Standards in Public Office Commission.

Potential offenses include corruption, obstruction of justice and tax evasion, the AP wrote.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/ireland/120323/bertie-ahern-ireland-fianna-fail-corruption-irish-politics