In a curious incident known only to a few trusted friends, Bertie Ahern has today revealed his inadvertent involvement in a Nigerian Internet bank scam, which he believes was intended to smear his name.
It can now be reported that in March, 2005, Mr. Ahern received an e-mail from the widow of the president of the Bank of Greater Nigeria, asking for his help. Being a Christian man and a firm socialist, he contacted the distressed woman and offered his assistance. Upon the request of Mrs. Hinkadinkadoo, the taoiseach provided his bank location, so that she could lodge EU175,000 in his account to transfer the funds out of Nigeria, where her husband's life saving were under threat of confiscation by authorities. Her plan was to then emigrate to Ireland, where she could contact him to withdraw the funds for her personal use, giving Mr. Ahern 8% for his trouble.
Having failed to inform his bank that the funds were on their way, Mr. Ahern was surprised to receive a call from the Permanent TSB in Drumcondra. Indeed, he had quite forgotten about Mrs. Hinkadinkadoo, as he had not heard from her again and the matter then slipped from his mind. The sudden appearance of money raised Mr. Ahern's suspicions, and he feared that he had fallen into a trap that was intended to smear him in a most malicious way. He told bank officials that he was not expecting a lodgement of cash, and the lodgement in question could not be meant for him. Records show that the funds were then returned to a Nigerian legal firm. Their spokesman claimed that it was a case of mistaken identity, in that there are countless B. Aherns in Ireland and the cash lodgement could have been meant for one of them.
In addition, a letter purportedly issued by Deutsche Bank (Mauritius) Ltd., was sent to the Mahon Tribunal as part of their investigation of the taoiseach's finances. Mr. Ahern has stated unequivocally that he did not open an account on behalf of Ludmilla Nabakovna, widow of the Russian Oil Exploration Company CEO, who requested that Mr. Ahern help her to transfer her husband's investments of EU119,000 from Russia before authorities there seized the funds. It was pointed out that Deutsche Bank did not open its branch in Mauritius until 2004, while the letter is dated 1999, making it a clear forgery.
Mr. Ahern has declared with certainty that he is the victim of a smear campaign meant to discredit him and do him political harm. He has vowed to never again respond to any e-mail request for help with money transfers from abroad.
In another story, Mrs. Bahern Hinkadinkadoo has filed a motion in court, seeking the return of funds from Permanent TSB, Drumcondra, which she claims were to be lodged in an account that was to be opened by a Good Samaritan in Ireland. She filed a request for political asylum two years ago, but the matter has yet to come up before an overburdened justice system.