Wednesday 13 December 2017

Mick Wallace firm sold 5 apartments at centre of €2.1m Revenue deal to family members

NOT ALONE: Mick Wallace
with socialist TD Clare Daly
NOT ALONE: Mick Wallace with socialist TD Clare Daly
KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY: The Behan Square complex
his former partner Patricia Barry
and his estranged wife Mary Murphy

RONALD QUINLAN

FIVE apartments in the complex now at the centre of tax cheat TD Mick Wallace's controversial €2.1m settlement with the Revenue Commissioners were sold to members of his own family.

An investigation by the Sunday Independent can reveal that the Wexford deputy's firm, M&J Wallace, completed the sales of the five units at the Behan Square development, just off Dublin's North Circular Road, between September 2008 and August 2009, a period in which Mr Wallace has admitted to having made a conscious decision to under-declare his VAT liability to the Revenue Commissioners.

An examination of records filed at the Registry of Deeds shows how the first of the Behan Square sales was to his son, Sasha, on September 25, 2008. As a co-director with his father in M&J Wallace, Sasha made the headlines last week after it emerged that the two had drawn down pay of €289,000 between them in 2008, even as the company's finances were in freefall, declaring losses of €2.7m.

Further inspection of the records shows that M&J Wallace completed sales of apartments in Behan Square to Mr Wallace's former wife Mary Murphy Wallace on October 9, 2008; their son, Fionn, on October 20, 2008; his niece Gwenda on November 4, 2008; and his sister, Chrissie Harpur on August 20, 2009.

While there is no absolutely no suggestion of any impropriety in the sale of the Behan Square apartments by M&J Wallace to members of Mr Wallace's own family, news of the transactions will invariably raise yet more questions for the beleaguered deputy.

In 2009, the flamboyant developer turned politician transferred the ownership of Casa Wallace -- a vineyard complete with a five-bedroom, three-storey house he owned in Langhe Hills, the famous wine-making region of Piedmont in Italy -- to his brother, Joseph, by way of settlement of a €550,000 debt he owed him for building supplies.

The listing of the €2.1m settlement reached by M&J Wallace with the Revenue Commissioners on its latest list of tax defaulters, published last Tuesday, had already served to keep the Wexford TD's travails to the fore.

Last Thursday, Mr Wallace attempted to draw a line under the raging controversy in relation to his company's tax affairs, delivering a 15-minute speech to the Dail in which he apologised profusely for "a mistake made by the company M&J Wallace before I had been elected".

Explaining his decision to under-declare the VAT liabilities of his company in 2009 in the same speech, Mr Wallace said the monies which should have gone to the Revenue Commissioners had been used for the completion of a large project on the North Circular Road after his banks "pulled the plug". He stressed that it had been his intention to repay the money within six to 12 months once his company had worked its way through the crisis then facing it.

Repeated efforts by this newspaper to contact the Wexford TD and his son and co-director, Sasha, to discuss the sale of apartments in Behan Square to members of the Wallace family proved unsuccessful.

Contacted by phone yesterday, Mr Wallace's former wife, Mary Murphy Wallace, said she had no comment to make when asked to explain her decision to purchase an apartment there.

"No comment. I already had somebody (from the press) around here during the week and I asked them to leave," she said before ending the call.

In a series of questions sent to his Oireachtas and business email addresses, we asked Mr Wallace, amongst other things, whether the VAT element of the monies he had received from his family for the Behan Square units had been passed to the Revenue Commissioners or used to pay down the €19m debt he owes to his single biggest bank creditor, the ACC.

We also asked whether the members of his family had received any discount on the prices of the apartments. Were this to have occurred, the issue of CAT (Capital Acquisitions Tax), more commonly known as 'gift tax', could potentially have arisen.

Last Friday afternoon, Mr Wallace's mobile phone appeared to have been diverted. Responding to a call from the Sunday Independent, an unidentified woman said that the independent TD had gone for his lunch. The same woman said she did not know if he would be returning to his Dail office that day and could not say whether she would be in contact with him.

Sunday Independent

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