Telenor not quite off the hook in Irish mobile case / News / The Foreigner

Telenor not quite off the hook in Irish mobile case. Norwegian telecoms group Telenor said it was 'surprised' by the findings of a tribunal of inquiry in Ireland into payments to politicians. The tribunal accused Ireland's second richest man and the then Communications Minister, TD Michael Lowry, of colluding to ensure the former won a state mobile-phone licence. The 2,000-page Moriarty tribunal’s report was critical of Lowry’s independent tenure as Irish minister of communications in 1995.

telenoresatdigifone, michaellowry, denisobrien, moriartytribunal, declanganley, cellstar



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Telenor not quite off the hook in Irish mobile case

Published on Friday, 8th April, 2011 at 23:15 under the news category, by Cronan Scanlon.
Last Updated on 10th April 2011 at 19:23.

Norwegian telecoms group Telenor said it was 'surprised' by the findings of a tribunal of inquiry in Ireland into payments to politicians.

Telenor Fornebu (illustration photo)
Telenor Fornebu (illustration photo)
Photo: © 2007 Kjetil Ree/Wikimedia Commons


The tribunal accused Ireland's second richest man and the then Communications Minister, TD Michael Lowry, of colluding to ensure the former won a state mobile-phone licence.

The 2,000-page Moriarty tribunal’s report was critical of Lowry’s independent tenure as Irish minister of communications in 1995.

It concluded that he had "imparted substantive information" to telecoms tycoon Denis O'Brien which was "of significant value and assistance to him in securing the licence".

The tribunal also condemned the former minister's behaviour at the time as a "cynical and venal abuse of office".

Minister Lowry was then a member of the Fine Gael Party, which was also offered a donation amounting to $50,000 from Mr O'Brien in the year the contract was granted.

Telenor paid the political donation to Fine Gael on behalf of Esat in 1995. The-then Prime Minister, John Bruton, later sent the money back.

In a statement to The Irish Times newspaper, the company said, “Telenor knows nothing of the alleged payments by O’Brien to Mr Lowry.

“We are confident that Esat Digifone was awarded the licence because it had the best bid, the best offering and the best technical solution.

“The decision on selecting Esat Digifone as the winner was based on a thorough and fair evaluation of the bids. Telenor’s GSM expertise and financial strength contributed to the strength of the bid.”

On the $50,000 political donation to Fine Gael, the spokesman said the company would do things differently today.

“It is important to remember that this was in the early days of Telenor’s international process and at that time it was legal and common to do political donations,” he said.
“However, that wouldn’t have occurred today.”

Telenor said it had had no contact with Mr O’Brien since the report was published.
It does not expect the findings to affect its reputation.

“The report describes events that occurred more than 15 years ago. The contents relating to Telenor have been publicly known since 2001. There is nothing new in the report concerning Telenor. Telenor does not stand accused of any wrongdoings.”

Telenor’s website states it made $1.72 billion from the sale of its 40 per cent Esat stake to BT in 2000. It does not expect to be the subject of any lawsuits relating to the Moriarty findings.

“We do not contemplate any legal action against Telenor,” the company spokesperson added.

Meanwhile, businessman Declan Ganley, who is pursuing a Supreme Court case relating to the mobile licence, told The Irish Times, “Telenor will be hearing from me.”

He declined to elaborate on this. He led the Cellstar consortium that finished sixth and last in the licence competition.

In a statement released last week, TD Michael Lowry said the Moriarty report was “factually wrong and deliberately misleading”.

He said Mr Justice Moriarty “has outrageously abused the tribunal's ability to form opinions which are not substantiated by evidence or fact”.

Mr O'Brien said the tribunal was “fundamentally flawed” and that he never gave money to politicians.




Published on Friday, 8th April, 2011 at 23:15 under the news category, by Cronan Scanlon.
Last updated on 10th April 2011 at 19:23.

This post has the following tags: telenoresatdigifone, michaellowry, denisobrien, moriartytribunal, declanganley, cellstar.





  
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