Mulroney, who served as prime minister from 1984 to 1993, told the Commons Ethics Committee he received three payments of $75,000 each in 1993 and 1994 from German-Canadian businessman Karlheinz Schreiber, CanWest News Service reported. He called the cash payments "a retainer" for international promotional work he did for Schreiber, the news agency said.
"I took compensation from Mr. Schreiber for serious work done on his behalf around the world," Mulroney said during his four hours of testimony. "I was paid to execute this mandate that he articulated in court.
"I apologize and accept full responsibility for it."
The former Progressive Conservative prime minister called it "a serious error in judgment" but "decidedly not illegal," CanWest said.
However, Mulroney turned combative when repeatedly questioned about why he was paid in cash and didn't declare the payments as income until 1999 -- after Schreiber had been arrested on behalf of German authorities. Schreiber faces deportation to face fraud charges in Germany.