Thursday 19 April 2018

State recoups €113m from Ansbacher probe but fails to prosecute

Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

THE State has so far recouped €113m from its 14-year investigation into the Ansbacher scandal with the probe now focusing on a remaining small number of cases.

The investigation into one of the country's biggest financial and political scandals was launched in 1999, with 289 cases being examined.

The Ansbacher accounts provided for a complex and secretive system allowing Irish depositors to place funds offshore and have access to them in Ireland, without any records here of them being held.

Nobody has been jailed over the tax evasion scheme and the Revenue Commissioners said too much time had elapsed to bring prosecutions.

By the end of last year, the yield from the investigation was €112.69m from 141 cases, including €50.1m of tax paid and interest and penalties of €62.59m.

Of the 289 cases, 280 were finalised as at the end of December. Revenue said the remaining nine cases were "well advanced" with assessments entered where necessary. Payments totalling €0.88m have been received in respect of six of the cases.

In a letter to the Dail Public Accounts Committee, the head of the Revenue Commissioners Josephine Feehily confirmed that no prosecutions had taken place.

She added: "While the majority of Ansbacher cases passed the 'serious evasion' test to be considered for prosecution, the time elapsed, typically in excess of 10 years since the alleged offence occurred, meant it would not be possible to mount a successful prosecution."

Ms Feehily said that a successful prosecution depends on having original documents.

"There were very few original documents available and there was no legal mechanism to compel Cayman entities to produce such documents," she said.

Last month Ms Feehily told the Public Accounts Committee that cases would have been prosecuted by Revenue if it had been possible.

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern told the Dail in 2002 that the then Government expected prosecutions to follow the revelations that were contained in the Ansbacher report.

Irish Independent

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