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Ex-ministers face questions over response to tax evasion claims


Joe Costello

Joe Costello

Joe Costello

MINISTERS who were passed documentation by a whistleblower alleging widespread tax evasion by former politicians are expected to be quizzed by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) about their response to the claims.

Labour TD Joe Costello last night said he believed that the PAC would seek the attendance of these former ministers, dating back to the 1990s, to quiz them on what they knew.

An explosive dossier sent by the serving civil servant to the PAC is expected to dominate Dail proceedings this week.

The dossier alleges that a number of former senior politicians in both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael committed tax evasion, and that this was subsequently covered up.

The civil servant was appointed in 1998 to investigate the use of a series of offshore bank accounts which formed the basis of the Ansbacher affair. But he claims he was requested to "terminate investigations" in June 2004.

He says he brought his findings to the attention of several ministers. The claims were passed on to the Revenue Commissioners, gardai, the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, the Moriarty Tribunal and the Mahon Tribunal.

The whistleblower also claims the Moriarty Tribunal did not properly investigate Ansbacher - which undermines the integrity of the tribunal and the reliability of its findings.

One former minister at the department, Fianna Fail's Batt O'Keeffe, says he has no knowledge of the allegations.

"If he had been presented with those allegations, he would have certainly passed it on to the relevant authorities," said a source close to the former Cork TD.

Jobs Minister Richard Bruton has said a witness statement on the allegations will be forwarded to the relevant authorities.

Meanwhile, the family of a judge also named in the dossier, the late Declan Costello, have said that while he had an account at Guinness & Mahon, he never had an offshore account.

"The account was opened at a time when the Associated Banks were closed due to a strike," they said. They added that he had no recollection of the account when he was invited to act as an inspector in relation to the Ansbacher affair.

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Independent TD Shane Ross described the allegations as "absolutely staggering".

"The PAC will essentially have to follow the money trail and see if tax was evaded," he said.

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