Sunday 25 February 2018

Search of Lowry's home by Revenue 'utterly wrong'

TD Michael Lowry denies filing incorrect tax returns
TD Michael Lowry denies filing incorrect tax returns

Tim Healy

Michael Lowry has been the subject of "unprecedented" state scrutiny for 20 years and his prosecution on tax charges contrasts with the failure to charge even one Ansbacher account holder, the High Court has been told.

An article alleging that the Independent TD passed a note in the Dáil to Taoiseach Enda Kenny seeking a "crony" app- ointment was also part of a sustained campaign against him by the 'Sunday Independent', Patrick Treacy SC, for Mr Lowry, said on the second day of the hearing of his bid to stop his trial on alleged tax offences.

There was also an "utterly wrong" and "deeply humiliating" search, involving eight Revenue officials, of the TD's Co Tipperary home which included going through his bedroom, clothing and cutlery, counsel said.

Mr Lowry was not home at the time, and a woman in the house went into hiding, believing the Revenue team were burglars. When found in the bedroom, she was "very upset" and had to be given a glass of water. Details of that search were wrongly disclosed to the media, counsel added.

When a warrant was sought authorising that search, the District Court was not told the application arose from a complaint made to the Criminal Assets Bureau in February 2013 by Dr Elaine Byrne, Mr Treacy said.

Dr Byrne was then a journalist with the 'Sunday Independent' and her complaint concerned material in the "Lowry tapes", a recording of a purported conversation in 2004 between Mr Lowry and Omagh accountant Kevin Phelan.

On these and other grounds, it was oppressive and "utterly unfair" for the DPP to continue with Mr Lowry's prosecution and the court should halt it, Mr Justice Seamus Noonan heard.

Mr Lowry was last year found by a Revenue Appeals Commissioner to have no personal income tax liability arising from the 2002 transaction that led to this prosecution. The basic penalty for a disputed surcharge on a corporate tax liability of his company, Garuda, was €125.

Mr Treacy was continuing his arguments in Mr Lowry's judicial review challenge.

Mr Lowry denies charges of allegedly filing incorrect income tax returns for 2002 and conniving in the alleged delivery by Garuda of incorrect corporation tax returns for the years ending 2002 and 2006.

He also denies a charge of wilfully causing a company to fail to keep proper books of account between August 28, 2002 and August 3, 2007.

The case continues.

Irish Independent

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