Sunday 25 February 2018

Former KPMG partner in revenue probe sets up new firm

Eamonn Donaghy. Source: Twitter
Eamonn Donaghy. Source: Twitter

John Mulgrew

A FORMER partner at KPMG in Belfast who is being investigated by the UK's revenue and customs, and helped lead the way for devolving corporation tax in the North, has launched his own business consultancy firm.

The move comes as Eamonn Donaghy joins three fellow former partners at KPMG in Belfast in taking a judicial review against Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) next week.

Mr Donaghy and his three former colleagues retired from the role earlier this year after an investigation into their tax affairs by HMRC over property company JEAP Ltd.

Now, Mr Donaghy is launching a business consultancy firm called Bona Fide Consultancy.

And it comes as the four former KPMG members, who also includes Paul Hollway, John D'Arcy and Arthur O'Brien, are taking a case against HMRC. They are bringing a judicial review over the lawfulness of the warrants issued to search their homes and business premises.

The case is due to be heard at the High Court in Belfast next Monday. Mr Donaghy was writing about business and the current political and economic landscape - in his role with his new firm Bona Fide Consultancy - in the latest newsletter for members of the Institute of Directors (IoD) in the North.

"Narrowing the lens a bit, it is accepted that business does not react well to uncertainty, which means unpredictable outcomes and more risk," he said.

"What will businesses in the British Isles have made of the last three months of 'interesting' events.

"We have seen a vote for Brexit (but not everywhere), a change in UK government, significant increased terrorism in Europe, and even GB, volatile currency exchange, rumblings of a significant constitutional change in the UK and the largest single drop in the purchasing managers' index on record."

At the time of the initial investigation back in November, a spokesman for HMRC said: "HMRC officers arrested four individuals from Northern Ireland yesterday in connection with suspected tax evasion. We can't comment further."

It was not able to comment any further when contacted by this paper.

Mr Donaghy was not available for comment.

The four were arrested last November, but have not been charged with any wrongdoing.

In February this year, KPMG announced that the partners in its Belfast office subject to the HMRC probe had retired.

Mr Donaghy, Mr D'Arcy, Mr Hollway and Mr O'Brien are now seeking to judicially review the lawfulness of the warrants issued to search their homes and business premises.

Their lawyers argued back in May this year that significant information about their co-operation was omitted in applications for permission to trawl through the houses and offices.

Lawyer Barry Macdonald said: "HMRC obtained these warrants in circumstances where they misrepresented the relevant facts.

Mr Donaghy was one of the main campaigners behind devolving corporation tax powers to the Northern Ireland Assembly in his role with Grow NI - a business-backed organisation which called for a reduced rate.

That's in order to make the North more competitive with the Republic, which has a lower 12.5pc rate.

Irish Independent

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