Thursday 19 April 2018

US government rejects McManus 'conspiracy' claim

Billionaire JP McManus. Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Billionaire JP McManus. Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

The US government has rejected claims by billionaire gambler JP McManus that authorities there and in Ireland were engaged in a conspiracy against him over his tax affairs.

Lawyers for the US Department of Justice have moved to deny allegations they made false and misleading claims in court, as part of a dispute over the withholding of $5.2m (€4.7m) Mr McManus won in a high-stakes backgammon game.

The cash was withheld by the US Internal Revenue Service to cover tax liabilities on a total pot of $17.4m (€15.8m) won by Mr McManus from ­Israeli-American private equity tycoon Alec Gores in 2012.

The Limerick-born currency speculator and racehorse owner sued for the return of the cash in August last year and the dispute is currently being fought out in the US Court of Federal Claims in Washington DC.

Mr McManus has claimed the backgammon winnings should be exempt from tax under a double taxation treaty between Ireland and the US.

He claims that because he had paid a €200,000 domicile levy in Ireland, he should not be taxed on earnings in the US.

The dispute turned bitter last month when Mr McManus's lawyers accused tax officials of making "outright misrepresentations" about his tax status and "carelessly or intentionally attempted to mislead the court".

Now Jason Bergman, an attorney representing the US Department of Justice, has disputed these allegations.

In an affidavit seen by the Irish Independent, he said Mr McManus has made "personal attacks on the integrity of lawyers and public servants at the taxing authorities in the US and Ireland".

Mr Bergman said the "combative rhetoric and charges of conspiracy" had no place in a rational discussion of legal issues. The lawyer said Mr McManus was attacking tax officials rather than the substance of their argument against him.

"Other than to say there is no merit in the plaintiff's attacks, the government declines to engage in tit for tat," he said.

A decision on the dispute is expected later this year.

Irish Independent

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