(by Ed Moloney, Sunday Tribune)
October 21, 2001
The US-based double agent who is the principal witness against the dissident Republican leader, Michael McKevitt is a four time bankrupt whose string of failed businesses have, over an eighteen-year period, accumulated debts of around $4million, according to US court documents now in the possession of the Sunday Tribune.
David Rupert, a former trucking business owner, has already been revealed as owing the US tax authorities $325,000 in unpaid federal and state income and other taxes which date as far back as 1994. Rupert's bankruptcy record stretches back even further to 1974 when an insurance business he owned in New York State failed. The last failed business he owned went under in 1992.
A part German-American and part Mohawk Indian whose only link with Ireland appears to be his Irish-American wife, Rupert is now believed to be in the protective custody of the FBI somewhere in the United States preparatory to giving evidence against McKevitt. The alleged dissident leader has been held on remand since April on charges that he is a member of the Real IRA and that he "directed terrorism" on behalf of the group which split off from the Provisionals four years ago in a disagreement over the peace process.
Rupert, who is thought to have worked for both the FBI and the British security service MI5, is said to have first infiltrated Republican Sinn Féin and the Continuity IRA in the early 1990's before turning his attention after 1997 to the Real IRA.
The revelations about Rupert's troubled business life, which include an allegation from a New York bank that he defrauded it, could play an important part in the court proceedings against McKevitt especially if it transpires that Rupert has no way of substantiating his allegations other than by his own recollections. Rupert is alleging that he attended at least one meeting of the Real IRA's Army Council during his relationship with the diisident group but it is not known if he bugged the conversations.
Among other allegations made by Rupert to his handlers in Britain and the US, according to a document seen by the Sunday Tribune, is that before his arrest McKevitt was secretly negotiating a relationship with a former senior Sinn Féin figure in New York who is also a brother-in-law of one of Gerry Adams' strongest supporters in the United States.
The circumstances of Rupert's entry to the world of violent Irish Republicanism and to the life of a multi-national double agent are shrouded with uncertainty and mystery but it is thought that he first appeared on the scene in 1995 when he bought a public house in Bundoran, Co Donegal and befriended a leading member of Republican Sinn Féin.
After the 1997 split in the Provisionals, Rupert seems to have moved away from RSF and urged the group's Irish-American supporters to switch to the Real IRA. He was generous with gifts of computer equipment and gave PC's and e-mail encryption programmes to a number of potential disciples. Court evidence has been given in Ireland to the effect that Rupert communicated with his MI5 handlers by e-mail.
Rupert's first dealings with a bankruptcy court were in March 1974 when he ran an insurance business in Waddington, NY which went into receivership. A writ was issued against him when he failed to turn up to creditors' meetings. The court documents showed that he owed just over $20,000. In May 1977 he was running a logging business also in Waddington, apparently supplying timber, which also went under owing $32,000.
Eight years later Rupert graduated to the big league of bankruptcy when he was declared insolvent with debts of $1.6 million. As a result his assets, including a trucking business in Massena, NY, a bar called Charlie's Tavern and an inn named the Woodlawn Hotel were seized to pay his debts. During the proceeding the Massena Savings and Loan Bank alleged that Rupert had defrauded it by pocketing the proceeds of the sale of his house instead of discharging his mortgage. Rupert appears to have had a yearning for the high life; in the 1985 court action against him a De Lorean gull-winged sports car he owned was also confiscated.
In March 1992 a trucking business owned by Rupert also in Massena called Transport Arrangements Incorporated went bankrupt with debts of $2.5 million, the bulk of it in undecured trade debts.