Thursday 27 November 2014

The Punt: This really is 
a tax too far

Published 29/07/2014 | 02:30

Jeremy Masding
Jeremy Masding

What are the Revenue Commissioners thinking?

To tax travel expenses for non-executive directors attending board meetings is the height of stupidity.

In what universe is a board meeting not an essential part of doing business in this country?

The Punt does not share the horror of regulation that is the hallmark of so many business leaders but it is a step too far to tax non-executive directors like this when the entire Republic has been brought to its knees through poor oversight.

Finding good directors is not easy judging by the small number of faces that keep cropping up and the same can be said at local level where a few dozen business champions all too often appear again and again around the board room table because they are prepared to serve for free in a company's early years.

The Revenue Commissioners doubtless have their own reasons for this strange decision but it is time for their political masters to look again at the whole issue of board representation. We must do more to encourage new training schemes for board members (along the lines of the excellent courses offered by the Institute of Directors) and fair payment to at least cover expenses.

Tchenguiz boys settle case

Iran-born brothers Robert and Vincent Tchenguiz  were renowned for their lavish lifestyles in London.

Robert Tchenguiz also once owned just over 25pc of UK pub group Mitchells & Butlers (M&B). Irish horseracing tycoons JP McManus and John Magnier jointly own over 20pc of M&B.

When the Icelandic banking crisis struck in 2008, Robert Tchenguiz was forced to sell stakes in supermarket chain Sainsbury and M&B, losing about £1bn (€1.26bn) in the process.

The Tchenguiz brothers became embroiled in legal action with Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in 2011, when they sued the agency for a record £300m (€379m) in damages for a botched probe into the circumstances surrounding the failure of Icelandic bank, Kaupthing.

The SFO had arrested the pair as part of its investigation but the probe was later dropped.

Vincent Tchenguiz has just settled for £3m (€3.8m) damages plus costs against the SFO for his unlawful arrest and received a full apology.

"It has become increasingly apparent that the SFO's investigation was influenced by certain third parties, acting in their own commercial interests," he said in a statement.

New boss for PTSB in the UK

Permanent TSB is ringing the changes at its UK mortgage business Capital Home Loans (CHL), where Gerry Hickey is being installed as managing director to replace departing head Bob Young. 

Hickey, a 20 year veteran at the lender, is currently risk and credit director at CHL, which overseas a €7bn loan book.

The UK mortgage lender closed to new business back in 2008, and has been marked as "non-core" by Permo, essentially putting it on the 'for sale' block - at least in the medium term. Just when CHL will be sold, however, remains to be seen.

Earlier this year Permanent TSB chief executive Jeremy Masding, pictured below, put the lender's Irish sub prime unit Springboard on the market.
 Even at a discount, flogging the €465m Irish book will have a much less dramatic impact on the bank's balance sheet than hiving off the bigger UK unit. That twilight status is understood to be behind Bob Young's decision to exit the business, with four other managers set to follow.

Irish Independent

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