Sunday 24 September 2017

Michael Lowry TD changed firm's address a week before tax summons

Michael Lowry TD
Michael Lowry TD
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

MICHAEL LOWRY changed the address of his company seven days before it was served with a summons for alleged tax offences, the Sunday Independent has learned.

The change of address led to the case being thrown out of court when the matter came before a district court judge recently because the summons was served on an out-of-date address.

The company, Garuda Ltd, which is owned by Lowry, an independent TD, was charged with three tax offences late last year. A summons was issued by Dublin District Court to the Director of Public Prosecutions on December 10. The summons was sent on to gardai in the Dun Laoghaire division to serve on Lowry's firm which then operated out of Foxrock.

However, a month elapsed before the gardai served the summons on the company, by which time its registered address had changed from Dublin to Tipperary.

According to documents lodged with the Companies Registration Office (CRO), Michael Lowry authorised the change of address for Garuda Ltd on January 9. An online change of address form was submitted electronically on that date. A hard copy of the document bearing Lowry's signature was received by post at the CRO's office the following day on January 10. The change of address was backdated to take effect from December 31.

The change of address took effect on the CRO's website on January 13, according to the CRO.

On January 16, a garda attached to the Dun Laoghaire division served a summons on accountants for Garuda Ltd, at the Foxrock address, unaware that the company address had switched to Abbey Road, Thurles, Co Tipperary, just three days earlier.

The case was dismissed by Judge John O'Neill at Dublin District Court on May 16 last.

During the hearing, the court heard how the Director of Public Prosecutions had charged Garuda Ltd on three counts relating to the filing of corporation tax returns in 2003 and 2007.

A solicitor for Garuda Ltd highlighted that the summons was made out to an incorrect address and questioned whether the judge had jurisdiction to deal with the matter given that the firm's address was in Tipperary.

According to court reports, lawyers for the State argued that a company could frustrate prosecution by continually changing its registered office. It was pointed out that Garuda had used the same address for 17 years until it was changed in January.

Judge O'Neill agreed that he did not have jurisdiction to deal with the case. It is understood that the summons against the company can be reissued.

Lowry said he was not making any comment on what was a "legal matter".

The Revenue Commissioners declined to comment on "individual cases".

In response to a general query about companies changing address, a spokesperson said: "Changing the registered address of a company often occurs in the normal course of business and generally doesn't cause an issue for Revenue."

Sunday Independent

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