Friday 17 January 2020

Two INM directors linked to Panama Papers

INM chairman Leslie Buckley
INM chairman Leslie Buckley
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

A Businessman linked to the so called Panama Papers says off-shore companies play an important role in global trade.

The comments were made by Paul Connolly, one of two directors of Independent News & Media (INM) linked to the Panama law firm at the centre of a controversial leak of customer data in a news report this week.

The chairman of INM Leslie Buckley and non-executive director Paul Connolly have both been shareholders and directors of separate companies that had been connected to Mossack Fonseca - the law firm at the centre of the Panama Papers.

The 'Irish Times' reported that in 1996 Mr Buckley was a director and shareholder of Zelia Ltd, a company incorporated in the tiny Pacific island of Niue, and of Ronver Ltd, in the Bahamas.

The report said that Paul Connolly was the owner of Lynsdale Investments, an investment company incorporated in the Bahamas.

INM is the publisher of Ireland's leading newspapers, including the Irish Independent, 'Sunday Independent' and the 'Herald'.

A spokesman said Leslie Buckley is involved in a number of companies here and abroad.

"He is involved in a range of companies both in Ireland and internationally. He takes counsel from advisors in relation to financial and governance matters. He is fully satisfied with the advice he has received and his tax and business affairs have always been fully compliant and up-to-date. He is resident and pays tax in Ireland."

Mr Buckley is one of the country's best known corporate restructuring experts, and has worked with companies including INM, Irish Steel and Aer Lingus.

The former Smurfit executive made around €77m from the sale of shares in Denis O'Brien's Esat Digifone, where he was a senior executive and shareholder.

He is the vice-chairman of Digicel, the Irish owned mobile phone and communications group that operates in 33 countries in the Caribbean and Pacific regions.

Mr Buckley's Haven Partnership charity was set up in 2009 as a result of his business links to Haiti and emerged as an important player in efforts to rebuild that country's infrastructure following a catastrophic earthquake in 2010.

Corporate advisor Paul Connolly heads up boutique investment bank Connolly Capital and is a director of a number of businesses in Ireland and abroad, including Digicel.

He said off-shore companies play an important role in international trade.

"I confirm that I was the beneficial owner of Lynsdale Investments, a Bahamas incorporated company, from 1995 through 2004. I have worked in international corporate finance for over 20 years and offshore companies form an integral part of global corporate merger and acquisition structuring as well as incorporating public companies who are listed on all the major world stock markets," he said.

The Panama Papers are a mass of millions of leaked files from the offices of the Mossack Fonseca law firm that highlight the use off-shore structures by corporations and wealthy individuals.

Use of offshore company structures is legal, and can often help cut global tax bills.

Irish Independent

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