For more than two decades some of the country’s richest and most powerful people held secret off-shore bank accounts which helped them avoid paying taxes they owed in Ireland.
They deposited millions into accounts in Ansbacher Bank, which is registered in the Cayman Islands. However, the accounts were actually being operated from Dublin and clients had easy access to the money. The scheme was managed by Guinness & Mahon accountant Des Traynor, who ran the business from Dublin city centre.
In 1997, the tax evasion scam was exposed during the McCracken Tribunal. It later emerged that ex-Taoiseach Charles Haughey and other senior politicians held accounts. No-one was ever prosecuted — but Revenue collected over €110m in taxes and penalties from account holders.
A civil servant in the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation investigated the Ansbacher accounts when they first emerged. He presented reports on his findings to three successive governments and the allegations were forwarded to gardai, the Revenue Commissioners, the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement and two tribunals.
Last week, this whistleblower sent a file to members of the Public Accounts Committee, claiming other senior politicians had held accounts — but were never exposed. He made the disclosure under new whistleblower legislation. At one point or other his allegations have been referred to gardai, the Mahon and Moriarty tribunals, the Revenue and the A-G.
In his 30-page document, he accused the Moriarty Tribunal of failing to properly investigate “significant evidence brought to its attention”.
Gardai said a file on the allegations is with the DPP.