Revenue on horns of a dilemma over €1.5m tusks
THE taxman is on the horns of a dilemma by having to pay for the safekeeping of eight rhino tusks – valued at €1.5m – at a secret high-security hideaway for the past three years.
And now the cost of storing this unlikely haul means the Revenue Commissioners are considering destroying the horns despite their value.
In some parts of the world they are considered both an aphrodisiac and a cure for cancer and have soared in price in the international black market over the past year.
For the Revenue the main problem is how they can dispose of the horns, which were confiscated in an anti-smuggling sting in Shannon Airport in 2010.
At the time of the discovery, the combined value of the horns was €492,160. But they have since tripled in value and are now worth about €1.47m.
At a subsequent court hearing, at which an antiques expert stated the horns were "worth more in weight than gold'', two brothers were fined for their illegal importation.
A key headache for the authorities in trying to dispose of the horns, is that dealing and importation in this substance is illegal worldwide, because of the threat to the rhinoceros population in various countries.
It had been suggested by local councillors that the horns – given that they were confiscated in nearby Shannon – could be donated to the Clare County Museum in Ennis.
The Irish Independent can reveal that this is no longer considered a feasible option because of their high value, and if such a proposal was to go ahead, it would involve a major security bill for a relatively small museum.
A spokesman for the Revenue Commissioners said because of security reasons it could not comment on the storage arrangements for the horns.