Ex-prime minister testifies at Commons ethics committee
Former prime minister Brian Mulroney says he hesitated, then took the cash.
At an extraordinary four-hour hearing of the Commons ethics committee yesterday, Mulroney broke a 12-year silence and tried to answer the question Canadians have been asking: Why did he accept three envelopes stuffed with cash from German-Canadian businessman Karlheinz Schreiber in 1993-94?
With his wife Mila and his four grown children watching, Mulroney talked for the first time about Schreiber handing him money during a meeting at a Mirabel Airport hotel in Montreal on Aug. 27, 1993.
After Schreiber "said he would like to retain me" to represent him internationally in a business venture, "he produced a legal-sized envelope and handed it to me."
"At this point, Mr. Schreiber said this is the first retainer payment. He told me there would be a total of three payments for three years. When I hesitated he said, ‘I’m an international businessman and I only deal in cash. This is the way I do business.’"
The 68-year-old former prime minister said accepting the cash was a "serious error in judgment" and "my second biggest mistake in life." The first, he said "was ever agreeing to be introduced to Karlheinz Schreiber in the first place."
Schreiber told the same committee during four appearances over the last two weeks that he gave Mulroney $300,000 in cash — $100,000 in two separate meetings in Montreal and another $100,000 at a meeting at the Pierre Hotel in New York.
But Mulroney yesterday disputed that, saying he received $75,000 in cash on each occasion, for a total of $225,000, and worked hard for it.
It was one of many times Mulroney contradicted Schreiber’s testimony.