Thursday 22 March 2018

Lowry in court bid to stop trial on tax charges

Michael Lowry TD. Picture: Damien Eagers
Michael Lowry TD. Picture: Damien Eagers

Tim Healy

FORMER Fine Gael minister Michael Lowry is seeking permission to bring a High Court challenge aimed at preventing his trial on alleged tax offences.

The prosecution is "extraordinary" because it concerns a payment Mr Lowry had both declared and paid, his counsel Patrick Treacy SC said.

Mr Lowry (60) of Glenreigh, Holycross, Co Tipperary, argues he has no outstanding tax liability and is being treated unfairly and selectively when others, including some 145 holders of Ansbacher accounts said to have a liability, have not been prosecuted. He also alleges prejudicial publicity and wrongful release of taxpayer information into the public domain.

The trial should at least be deferred, pending his appeal to a Revenue Appeals Commissioner due for hearing in March, it has been argued.

There is also an investigation of his complaint over how details of a search of his home was disclosed to the media when, it is argued, that was potentially an offence under tax legislation.

Mr Treacy SC also submitted that the decision to transfer Mr Lowry's trial to Dublin Circuit Criminal Court breaches his rights - and amounts to his being punished for his success as a politician in Tipperary.

If Mr Lowry was a "hopeless" politician who could not get elected, he would get a trial in his own constituency but, because he is successful, he does not, counsel said. The ex parte application (one side only represented) was moved by Mr Treacy before Mr Justice Seamus Noonan.

Judge Noonan directed it should be heard on notice to the intended respondents, including the DPP. Having being told Mr Lowry's trial is listed for mention before Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Friday, the judge returned the matter to Wednesday

Earlier, Mr Treacy said the prosecution of his client related to a payment Mr Lowry had declared in a tax return and had paid. Mr Lowry has been advised by two tax consultants he has no liability in that regard but his prosecution related solely to that payment, counsel said.

Mr Lowry, now an independent TD, is facing four charges that he allegedly filed incorrect tax returns in 2003 and 2007. His trial was transferred to Dublin on the application of the DPP.

Irish Independent

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