Business Irish

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Shire refuses to comment on tax affairs as row continues

Flemming Ornskov, chief executive officer of Shire Plc
Flemming Ornskov, chief executive officer of Shire Plc
Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

Pharmaceuticals giant Shire has refused to comment on its Irish tax affairs as controversy continues to surround the Dublin-based company's accounting practices.

A spokeswoman for the publicly-listed company said Shire "does not comment on tax affairs in any individual jurisdiction" when asked how much tax the company paid here last year.

Shire was one of the companies embroiled in the 'Lux Leaks' scandal, when documents appeared to show that the company had used loans worth billions of euro to shift profits to Luxembourg and pay tax at an effective rate of 0.0156pc.

When the revelations emerged, a Shire spokesman said that the pharmaceuticals company followed the tax rules in all jurisdictions in which it operates.

"We consider effective and lawful management of our tax affairs to be an appropriate and responsible part of our drive for efficiency and reinvestment into research," he said.

The company is currently in discussions with the Irish tax authorities about whether a $1.6bn break fee it received as part of an abortive merger with AbbVie is taxable here.

It said it has received advice that the fee should not be taxable, but that this position has not been agreed with Revenue. Revenue does not comment on individual cases.

In an interview with the 'Financial Times', Shire chief executive Flemming Ornskov said the company has 'nothing to hide' when it comes to its tax affairs.

Mr Ornskov said the Luxembourg arrangements were 'fully legal'.

"We're trying to do the right thing for our stakeholders, because in the end, the more we can invest in research and development, the more we can serve the patients because none of the R&D today is easy or inexpensive," he told the newspaper.

Mr Ornskov was not available for comment yesterday.

In its last fiscal year, Shire posted total revenues of just over $6m (€5.3m).

(Additional reporting Reuters)

Irish Independent

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