Sunday 25 February 2018

Lowry must foot legal bill for failed bid to halt tax charges case

Michael Lowry
Michael Lowry

Tim Healy

Independent TD Michael Lowry will have to foot the legal bill for the four days of a High Court hearing in which he failed to stop his trial on mainly tax- related charges.

Last February, Mr Justice Seamus Noonan rejected his judicial review challenge to his trial, saying it was based on arguments which were "devoid of any substance and ultimately built on a foundation of sand".

Mr Lowry, he found, had "conspicuously declined" to engage with the €372,000 transaction of 2002 at the heart of the case.

He also disagreed with Mr Lowry's argument that a 2015 Appeal Commissioners' determination of his tax appeal was a "vindication" of him, in light of which continuation of the tax prosecution was oppressive. The Appeal Commissioners found "clear evidence" Mr Lowry "misappropriated" monies of his company Garuda, the judge said.

The case returned before Mr Justice Noonan yesterday to deal with the issue of the legal costs of the hearing. Patrick Treacy SC, for Mr Lowry, asked that there be no order as to costs. Remy Farrell SC, for the DPP, sought costs.

Awarding costs, Mr Justice Noonan said it was argued by Mr Treacy that there should be no order on grounds including that Mr Lowry was not legally aided. It was argued, the judge said, that he faces a criminal trial in the Circuit Court on the tax charges, for which there would be significant other costs.

However, the judge said, the DPP had said that if Mr Lowry was acquitted on the tax charges, he could make an application for his costs then. Therefore, the issue of hardship as a result of having to pay costs did not arise, he said.

The judge also rejected arguments on behalf of Mr Lowry that his position had been vindicated by an Appeals Commissioner who found the TD had no personal tax liability although his company did.

The argument that he might have got his costs before the Appeal Commissioner was not relevant because the legislature had decided the Commissioner had no power to order costs.

Mr Lowry's trial before the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court is due for mention there today.

He faces five charges arising from a 2002 transaction involving a €372,000 payment due to Garuda being diverted to an Isle of Man trust account. He is charged with filing incorrect income tax returns for the year 2002 and conniving in alleged delivery by Garuda of incorrect corporation tax returns for the years ending 2002 and 2006. He is also charged, under the Companies Acts, with wilfully causing a company to fail to keep proper books of account.

Irish Independent

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