Tuesday 10 December 2019

Revenue to be questioned by TDs over Ansbacher

Representatives from the tax authority are set to appear at a sitting of the Public Accounts Committee as early as next week
Representatives from the tax authority are set to appear at a sitting of the Public Accounts Committee as early as next week

Niall O'Connor and Daniel McConnell

THE Office of the Revenue Commissioners is to be quizzed over its handling of an explosive dossier which details widespread allegations of tax evasion by former politicians.

Representatives from the tax authority are set to appear at a sitting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) as early as next week, the Irish Independent understands.

PAC members will use the meeting to raise a series of claims contained in the so-called 'Ansbacher dossier', which was compiled by whistleblower Gerry Ryan.

Mr Ryan, who is employed by the Department of Enterprise, began investigating a series of offshore accounts in 1998, before his inquiry was stopped prior to completion.

It has been claimed in the Dail that his dossier names several former politicians from Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the Progressive Democrats, who had secret Ansbacher accounts in order to evade tax.

No one has ever been prosecuted in relation to Ansbacher, but the Revenue Commissioners has recovered €113m in taxes since it began investigating in 1999.

At a private meeting of PAC yesterday, a number of TDs expressed their strong desire for Mr Ryan to be invited to appear in front of the committee. This is despite PAC's own legal advice suggesting such a sitting was off the cards.

PAC's legal team said this was because he was not covered by the terms of the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 because he was deemed to be an investigator.

However, in a letter to the committee this week, Mr Ryan's lawyers rejected the advice received by PAC.

PAC sources last night insisted that they will "explore every avenue possible" in a bid to accommodate a sitting involving Mr Ryan.

"There is a desire among members for Mr Ryan to speak to us because the allegations he is making are extremely serious," one source said last night.

An invitation will now be extended to Revenue to discuss the matter, while further legal advice will also be sought by the high-powered Oireachtas Committee.

A Revenue spokeswoman told the Irish Independent that the state body will respond accordingly once the invite from the committee is received.

While some committee members have suggested the meeting with Revenue could take place next week, others said it was likely to be later in the month.

The allegations contained in the Ansbacher dossier were previously investigated by a number of state bodies, including An Garda Siochana, the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement and Revenue.

In the dossier, Mr Ryan claims successive governments and several state agencies ignored evidence that high-profile former Fianna Fail and Fine Gael TDs held offshore accounts to avoid tax.

He alleges the Moriarty Tribunal failed to investigate the claims and that a judge who acted as a High Court inspector into Ansbacher, the late Declan Costello, held an account with Guinness & Mahon, the bank at the centre of the offshore tax evasion scandal.

Irish Independent

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