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Moscow, Plumbers, Hairdressers, The Mafia, and Minister of State Frank Fahey
Wednesday May 31, 2006 01:31 by Shell to Sea
How imppressed is Bertie with Frank ?
There have been a number of interesting stories circulating about Frank Fahey recently. The former minister for the Marine and Natural Resources was instrumental in the initial planning stages of the Corrib Gas scheme, and was at the time accused of using "bullying tactics" to secure Shell's preferred option - an onshore pipeline connecting the sea bed with a giant gas refinery built on a peat bog at Bellinaboy.
While questions have been asked about the Minister's close working relationship with Andy Pyle, CEO of Shell Exploitation Ireland, and whether he was lobbying for them with simply the best interests of the people of Ireland at heart, his critics have not had much firm ammunition to throw at him.
Eyebrow-raising stories of his financial dealings have always circulated as gossip, and he had to repay a large sum for misusing government stationary a few years ago. Many people have questioned how a former teacher can have amassed a huge property portfolio, but it all doesn't add up to that much really. Up to now, he hasn't had to fear having to resign.
The revelations in the article below about a Moscow Hair Salon might change all that.
Of course, if a central archiitect of the scheme to build the pipeline was forced to resign because of financial impropriety, then we could add that to the many questions that have arisen about the reasons
for government backing of the giveaway of natural resources, stretching right back to Ray Burke.
I wonder if Fahey will survive a summer when the Fianna Fáil party is getting jittery about the upcoming election. There was a curious comment about Frank Fahey in the Irish Times article way back when he was appointed Minister, looking back now it seems ironic:
Quote: On Mr Fahey's new role in the Marine and Natural Resources, a Fianna Fail source said yesterday: "There is not too much damage he can do in Marine and Fisheries."
New questions about Fahey link to salon.
Fresh questions have been raised about the relationship between Minister of State for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Frank Fahey and a hairdressing business in Moscow which collapsed in the mid-1990s, writes Colm Keena, Public Affairs Correspondent
Mr Fahey told The Irish Times last week he had "no involvement" in the Tressals hair salon, which was set up using a Limerick-based company, Irlasto plc, that facilitated investments into Russia in the 1990s and subsequently collapsed.
The Irish Times has now learned that Mr Fahey was named in a solicitor's letter sent in May 1995 in relation to the business.
This week an Irish businessman who worked in Moscow when the salon was in operation also came forward to The Irish Times and said he had numerous contacts with Mr Fahey in relation to the business.
In May 1995, a firm of solicitors Farrell & Partners, of Tullamore, Co Offaly, named Irlasto, "Frank Fahy", builder James Dunne and Tullamore architect Frank Murray in relation to the salon.
A copy of the letter is in the possession of The Irish Times. The reference to Mr Fahy is a reference to the Minister of State, who spells his name Fahey and was a Senator at the time.
Farrell & Partners were acting on behalf of two Tullamore plumbers, Thomas Malone and Seamus O'Connor, who had been engaged to work on the Moscow salon in July 1994. Mr Murray was also engaged by Mr Fahey to carry out work on the salon. The plumbers were threatening to sue if tools they were promised would be returned, were not returned to them. The tools were subsequently returned.
The letter to Irlasto, Mr Fahey and the two others, says the plumbers were "employed by you and/or the above named defendants on contract to carry out work on your behalf and/or on behalf of the above named defendants, with respect to a hairdresser salon in Moscow".
The letter stated that the two men travelled to Moscow with their tools. "We are instructed that our clients returned home to Ireland in or around July of 1994 and were informed by you and/or the above named defendants that their tools and equipment would be forwarded to them."
The Irlasto operation collapsed in 1996. The Irish partners said they had been run out of Moscow, in fear of their lives, by their Russian partners, and that all the Moscow businesses were taken from them. At the time, the businesses established through Irlasto had a combined annual turnover of more than $60 million and were averaging net profits of 27 per cent, according to sources.
The salon was taking in approximately $40,000 per month soon after it opened, but that turnover later increased, sources said. It featured in the Russian media, including television, and was very busy. It was located in a famous Moscow building, the House on the Embankment, opposite the Kremlin.
Mr Fahey said last week he had no involvement in the salon and that he had fully complied with his obligations in relation to the register of Senators' interests in 1995 and 1996.
The Irish Times put further question to Mr Fahey this week on foot of the information in the letter from the lawyers for the two plumbers.
A spokesman for the Minister issued a short statement: "As the matter is the subject of legal correspondence between The Irish Times and Minister Fahey and as you already have misquoted the Minister previously, he does not intend to comment to you."
The Irish Times reported last week on a document that linked Mr Fahey's wife, Ethelle, to the salon, along with three other people including Galway hairdresser Michael O'Connor.
Irish Times 27/05/20006