Criminal complaint against Varadkar referred to senior gardaí

An Garda Síochána says a criminal complaint against Leo Varadkar alleging the taoiseach submitted three false statutory donation statements to SIPO has been referred to senior Dublin gardaí. 

Last month The Ditch reported that Varadkar didn’t declare four 2018 and 2022 donations worth more than €3,500 in three separate statutory declarations submitted to SIPO. Knowingly making a false statutory declaration is an indictable criminal offence punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment.

Earlier this week People Before Profit councillor Hazel De Nortúin submitted a criminal complaint on the matter and An Garda Síochána have since referred it to Dublin’s assistant commissioner. 

A complaint. A referral

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on 20 January, 2023, submitted his 2022 annual donation statement to SIPO. He wrongly stated that he didn’t receive any political donations exceeding €600 that year. 

In August 2023, following pressure from SIPO, he disclosed a 2022 donation from Dr Ray Power, which the taoiseach claimed was €1,000 (the maximum donation permitted under electoral law). He also submitted a new 2018 donation statement revealing two previously undisclosed payments.

Months later he would be forced to disclose yet further donations he received in 2018 and 2022 despite claiming in his August 30, 2023 letter to SIPO that he was “deeply embarrassed” over his actions. 

People Before Profit councillor Hazel De Nortúin this week made a criminal complaint against Varadkar.

De Nortúin alleged in the complaint that in January and August 2023, Varadkar submitted three statutory declarations that he knew to be false – in contravention of the Criminal Justice (Perjury and Related Offences) Act, 2021. The offence is punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment. 

De Nortúin further alleged that Varadkar failed to refund within 14 days part of the prohibited donation received in May 2022, a summary offence under section 25(1)(b) of the Electoral Act, 1997 which can attract a fine of up to €1,270.

An Garda Síochána have now referred the complaint to the office of the assistant commissioner for the Dublin metropolitan region. 

A spokesperson for Varadkar said his “opponents regularly make complaints about him”. The spokesperson said Varadkar “is fully compliant with the requirements of the Standards in Public Office Commission with regard to political donations and has been informed that SIPO has no outstanding queries or questions for him”.

Asked to confirm this, a SIPO spokesperson said, “Due to the nature of SIPO's role as an impartial oversight body, and in order to be fair to all parties involved, we would not be able to provide any comment regarding individual, or party, cases of compliance.”

Varadkar was previously under criminal investigation after leaking a confidential contract to his friend. The DPP later directed that charges should not be brought against the taoiseach.

The Ditch editors

The Ditch editors