Wednesday 13 December 2017

Lowry Tapes led to raid by Revenue

'Never declared' remark by TD led officials to seek search warrant

Michael Lowry has described a raid on his home as an 'outrageous invasion of privacy'
Michael Lowry has described a raid on his home as an 'outrageous invasion of privacy'

JODY CORCORAN

THE Revenue Commissioners' raid on the home of independent TD Michael Lowry was a "direct result" of his statement in the Lowry Tapes that he "never declared" a sum of almost £250,000.

On one of the tapes, which were recorded a decade ago, Mr Lowry and a land agent, Kevin Phelan, are heard discussing a £200,000-£250,000 payment relating to a land deal in the UK.

Mr Lowry said he paid the sum to Mr Phelan, but the Tipperary North TD was recorded as saying: "I never declared it."

Arising out of this apparent admission, the Revenue Commissioners then felt "compelled" to further investigate Mr Lowry, who had already made a settlement with the taxman.

A source said: "This Revenue raid was the direct result of the Lowry Tapes. In fact, specific reference is made to the 'never declared' comment in the application for a search warrant."

Mr Lowry was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Last February the Sunday Independent published a transcript of the recorded conversation between Mr Lowry and Mr Phelan. In relation to the sum concerned, Mr Lowry is heard to have said: "I never put that through my books or my account or anything."

He said to Mr Phelan: "I'm asking you Kevin, for f***'s sake, will you protect me just a small bit. For Jaysus sake, don't land me in it. I'm destroyed as it f***ing is. I can't bring out that 200 – that 250 – again. If that comes out I'm f***ing ruined. I'm bankrupt."

Later in the conversation he said: "They can't find that 200. I never declared it."

Coming back to the sum concerned, he also said: "Now the 200 – the 250 – that I gave you, I paid that directly... Nobody's going to get it, so I've got, you know, I mean, I'm not even bringing that into it."

After the publication of the Lowry Tapes, the independent TD insisted he was "fully tax compliant". He said: "My business dealings have been the subject of intense scrutiny over a prolonged period, leading to several false and inaccurate reviews.

"The payment referred to in the Sunday Independent was made by my company, Garuda Limited, on my behalf. That transaction was properly recorded and accounted for in the records and accounts of Garuda Limited."

Last week Mr Lowry accused the Revenue Commissioners of infringing on his rights to have his tax affairs dealt with confidentially.

He also claimed Revenue had leaked details of a search of his home to the media.

Mr Lowry told Tipp FM radio that the search at his home near Holycross last Tuesday was an "outrageous invasion" of his privacy.

The raid followed Mr Lowry's insistence last March that he would not answer questions about the secretly taped conversation between himself and Northern Ireland businessman and property 'scout' Mr Phelan.

The Lowry Tapes suggested that Mr Lowry was anxious about the 'Doncaster Rovers module' of the Moriarty tribunal.

The tribunal covered the investigation of transactions involving or thought to involve Mr Lowry, whose company Garuda paid up to €1.2m after a Revenue audit, while he also paid €200,000 in respect of settling his personal taxes.

When the transcript of the conversation was published by the Sunday Independent, Mr Lowry confirmed that he had made a payment of £248,624 to Mr Phelan in August 2002.

In a statement made through his solicitors to the Moriarty tribunal in 2007, Mr Lowry indicated that a payment of £65,000 to Mr Phelan in April 2002 was the only payment he had made.

Mr Lowry was one of the key figures involved in the Moriarty tribunal, whose findings were highly critical of him when its report was published in 2011.

The report found that his role, as minister, in the awarding of Ireland's second mobile phone licence in 1995 was "disgraceful and insidious".

However, he vehemently rejected the findings and claimed the Moriarty Report was "factually wrong".

Last May, Taoiseach Enda Kenny ignored calls to re-open the Moriarty tribunal after transcripts of the Lowry Tapes were published.

Sunday Independent

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