Tuesday 6 December 2016

Barnardos deny receiving funding from owner of vulture fund

Published 24/11/2016 | 18:41

Fergus Finlay of Barnardos
Fergus Finlay of Barnardos

Children’s charity Barnardos have denied claims that they receive funding from the owners of a vulture fund.

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Mars Capital, a vulture fund, known for buying up bad Irish debt and mortgages, is owned by the Matheson Foundation, a registered charity.

The website of the Matheson Foundation lists Barnardos as a partner, along with Barretstown Camps and the Irish Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC).

Fergus Finlay, Chief Executive of Barnardos, stated that Barnardos has received funding from the Matheson law firm, but not the Matheson Foundation, on RTÉ’s Liveline today.

“To the best of our records, we’ve never had money from the Matheson Foundation,” Mr Finlay told Liveline.

“We work with children who are homeless. We’re not going to be involved with organisations that set out to make children homeless.”

When asked if Barnardos would take donations from the Matheson Foundation, Mr Finlay said: “We don’t take money from entities of that kind.”

Temple Street Children’s Hospital, also listed as a partner, said that they too do not receive money from the Matheson Foundation.

A statement from the hospital to independent.ie said: “Having reviewed our records, we have no note on file of having received any donations from The Matheson Foundation.”

Indpendent TD Stephen Donnelly brought the tax avoidance of vulture funds to the attention of the Dáil in July.

In a parliamentary question, he said: “I believe these vulture funds are about to pull off the largest avoidance of tax on Irish profits in the history of the State. The scale is likely to be in the tens of billions of euro in missed taxes.”

“In spite of annual revenues in year one of over €14 million, Mars Capital paid total corporation tax to the Irish State of €250.”

“My understanding is that almost all of the vulture funds whose profits are generated in Ireland have section 110 status.”

Section 110 is a section of the Irish tax code which allows offshore companies to be ‘tax neutral’.

In a statement to independent.ie, Matheson said: “Matheson, through our Foundation, has a long record in supporting charities, both in donations and through the efforts of our staff. Many Irish charities have benefitted from these efforts over the years, including those referred to on our website.

"The Foundation is not a vulture fund. However, we recognise that confusion now exists with respect to the status and activities of the Foundation. This is in no one’s interest, least of all those worthy causes we support. We are conducting a review of the Foundation to address this confusion. We remain fully committed to supporting worthy causes and will continue to do so.”

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