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Tuesday 30 September 2014

Revealed: how Mick Wallace fobbed off probe over tax deal

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

Published 08/01/2013 | 05:00

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THE details of how tax cheat Mick Wallace stonewalled a Dail investigation into his company's €2.1m tax settlement are revealed for the first time today.

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Documents show Mr Wallace did not agree to repeated requests to waive fully his right to confidentiality about the huge settlement.

Instead, he included only a "one-sentence" letter from the Revenue Commissioners which simply confirmed that the under-declaration of €1.4m in VAT on apartment sales by his construction company took place in the 2008-2010 period, before he was elected a TD.

The Independent Wexford TD refused to answer the remaining six out of seven questions submitted to him by the Dail committee charged with investigating possible breaches.

And lawyers acting on Mr Wallace's behalf warned the committee that it was acting "in breach of natural and constitutional justice" and "without jurisdiction".

The details are contained in a report by the Dail Committee on Members Interests.

Although it was known that the committee had not been able to secure the answers it wanted, its detailed correspondence with Mr Wallace has not been revealed until now.

In its report, the committee found that Mr Wallace had not answered queries about what role he had in his company's false VAT declaration, the date he told the Revenue about it and the date he agreed his tax settlement. As a result, the committee has demanded more powers after its failure to get answers from Mr Wallace.

The committee chair, Independent TD Thomas Pringle, said: "We would have preferred to deal with it more completely but given the limitations the committee has, that was as much as we could do."

Privileges

Mr Pringle said the committee should be abolished or have its work transferred over to the Standards in Public Office Commission unless its powers are increased.

"If it's not going to have the means and resources, then what's the point of having it there?" he asked.

However, the committee did accept that Mr Wallace had answered its first question about when the false VAT return had been declared in his company's accounts.

The conclusion of the committee's work was meant to pave the way for a motion of censure against Mr Wallace.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said last year that the Government was ready to "put together an all-party motion".

But although the committee's report was before the Dail last July, it has still not been discussed by the Dail's Committee on Procedure and Privileges which is responsible for such motions.

A TD doesn't have to give up their seat after a censure motion. It is merely an indication of the Dail's collective disapproval of their actions.

Irish Independent

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