Leo Varadkar submitted two false statutory declarations concerning his corporate donations to SIPO.
Documents obtained by The Ditch show the Fine Gael party leader submitted the first of these two false statements just weeks after The Ditch reported last year that he misled a SIPO probe into undeclared political donations.
Knowingly making a false statutory declaration is now an indictable offence punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment under legislation introduced in 2021.
Third time lucky
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on 20 January, 2023 submitted his 2022 donation statement to SIPO. He stated he didn’t receive any political donations exceeding €600 that year.
Varadkar’s statement was accompanied by a signed and witnessed declaration made under the Statutory Declarations Act 1938. The taoiseach “solemnly and sincerely” declared the information he gave was “correct in every material respect” to the best of his knowledge and belief.
The Ditch on 17 August last year reported that SIPO was probing Varadkar’s 2022 donation and his failure to declare political donations he received in 2018.
Just two weeks later – on 30 August, 2023 – Varadkar submitted a new 2022 donation statement and statutory declaration to SIPO.
In this new statement, which came after The Ditch’s first report on irregularities in the original, Varadkar disclosed he had in fact received a donation of €1,000 that year from Centric Health co-founder Dr Ray Power. This despite his “solemn declaration” in January 2023 that he had received no such donations.
But this declaration still didn’t give a true account of Varadkar’s corporate donations.
He submitted yet another statement for 2022 on 28 November, 2023.
In his third attempt at accounting for his 2022 dealings, Varadkar revealed that Power had initially given him €1033.20 – just more than the €1,000 donation limit allowable under electoral law. Varadkar stated in his declaration that he had refunded €33.20 to Power in August 2023.
Varadkar however may yet be forced to submit a fourth donation statement for 2022 as PR firm Edelman maintains it donated €1,250 to the taoiseach in 2022.
While it has always been a criminal offence to knowingly make a false statutory declaration, the offence was made indictable and the punishment increased to up to 10 years’ imprisonment under the Criminal Justice (Perjury and Related Offences) Act 2021.
Varadkar has been contacted for comment.