SUV dealer begs judge not to send him back to jail
A MOTOR dealer jailed last December for contempt of court over millions of euro in unpaid taxes yesterday begged not to be sent back to prison after he failed to co-operate with Revenue Commissioners investigating his affairs.
John Kane, a sports-utility vehicle (SUV) dealer, had promised to co-operate in order to end the week-long stay in prison that was imposed on him by the head of the Commercial Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly.
It followed a summary judgment order last year for €10m in unpaid taxes against Mr Kane and his brother Pauraig, who operated what the judge called a "cross-border car racket" in Granard, Co Longford. It was the first application of its type brought by the Revenue.
Yesterday, Anthony M Collins SC, for the Revenue, told the judge there had been "a complete failure" by Mr Kane to comply with the orders.
He said Pauraig had made some efforts by agreeing to pay €49,000 to the Revenue by next Friday and had also agreed to attend for cross-examination by the Revenue's lawyers by the end of the month. The matter against Pauraig could therefore be adjourned.
However, John -- also known as Alex -- had failed to provide any information or pay €24,000 which he had undertaken to pay last December.
The Revenue had learnt that John Kane had a number of properties in Granard, Edgeworthstown and in Meath, while there was also an issue over John and Pauraig's interest in a showroom in Granard that was operated by another brother, counsel said.
John Kane told the court yesterday that he was discharging his solicitor but he wanted time to get everything in order to the satisfaction of the Revenue.
"I am at the mercy of the court and I don't want to go back to jail," he told the judge.
He said he needed two weeks, so that another solicitor who handled his property matters could provide Revenue with the paperwork that it required.
He also said he was prepared to have the €24,000 with the Revenue by this Friday and to attend to answer any questions that it needed to be answered.
Mr Justice Kelly said unfortunately Mr Kane did not have a very impressive record when it came to giving undertakings to court. He was satisfied that he was in contempt and should be committed to prison.
However, given his undertakings that he would now comply, the judge put a stay on such an order for 14 days on the basis that the €24,000 would be paid by Friday and that he would submit himself for questioning by the Revenue.
"This is a serious business and your last opportunity," he told Mr Kane. He adjourned the matter for two weeks.
The court heard last year that Revenue began investigations into the brothers' affairs in 2004 and tax assessments were raised of €5.27m against Pauraig and €4.95m against John.
The court froze their assets and entered summary judgment against them.
Despite this, a litany of incidents allegedly took place, including false invoices being given to a Revenue-appointed receiver, who was also told vehicles were on loan when they were in fact sold. Other vehicles were recorded as sold to persons who, on investigation, did not exist, the court was told.