Revenue told to report to PAC on HSBC scandal within the next week
THE Dail spending watchdog is seeking an urgent report from the Revenue Commissioners on its investigations into tax evasion by certain Irish clients of HSBC.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) agreed this morning to ask Revenue for a report within the next week.
PAC chairman John McGuinness said Revenue needed to “clarify matters for the general public” amid concern that only €4.55m had been recouped in relation to some €3.1bn in Irish-linked deposits were held by the HSBC’s Swiss operation according to a data relating to 2006 and 2007.
Mr McGuinness said the committee was seeking a report “ASAP”.
He said Revenue needed to make it clear how many Irish account holders were suspected of tax evasion and the steps the taxman took to investigate them.
Mr McGuinness noted that the UK’s PAC was already meeting with its revenue officials to discuss the same issues.
Sinn Fein TD Mary Lou McDonald said the committee required “a very detailed briefing on these matters”.
Labour’s Joe Costello agreed with Ms McDonald.
He said: “It is certainly a major scandal that over €3bn in the accounts of 350 Irish citizens would be in a bank of this nature, which has been very questionable in the way it operates.”
He noted “a small amount” seemed to have been collected as a result of investigations by tax authorities.
“There are major questions to be answered and I certainly agree we should get a full and frank report on this issue.”
PAC vice-chairman John Deasy said he didn’t think there was anything wrong with someone having an account with HSBC and said the committee should consider Revenue’s report before deciding whether or not to have a formal hearing with tax officials.
Revenue insists it fully assessed and evaluated information it received about the HSBC accounts from French authorities in June 2010.
It has also defended its decision not to seek the prosecution of HSBC for facilitating tax evasion by some of its Irish clients, saying there was not sufficient admissible evidence to mount a case.