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Bruton: Politician tax-dodging claims were probed by Mahon and Moriarty

A file containing allegations of tax evasion against a number of former politicians – including ministers – is being examined by the Public Accounts Committee.

Image: photocall ireland

JOBS MINISTER RICHARD Bruton has released a lengthy statement on the dossier of ‘tax dodging’ allegations about politicians handed to the Public Accounts Committee this week, following the publication of further claims about the file this morning.

The file, said to contain claims of tax evasion against a number of former politicians, including ministers, is being examined by the PAC, which confirmed yesterday that legal advice was being sought on how best to pursue the matter.

It’s understood that a senior civil servant, still working in the Department of Jobs and Enterprise, posted the documents to the committee this week. It’s believed he obtained the information over the course of his official duties since the late 1990s.

In a report in this morning’s Irish Times, it’s claimed the civil servant wrote to current Jobs Minister Richard Bruton about his claims on two occasions since the coalition took office, and also alerted Attorney General Máire Whelan.

The paper reports that the man in question was originally appointed in 1998 by former Tánaiste Mary Harney to investigate offshore ‘Ansbacher’ bank accounts, when the PD politician was Minister for Enterprise and Employment.

In his statement, Bruton says that he believes the case is the first disclosure made under the new whistleblowing legislation recently enacting by the coalition.

He adds…

I am constrained in what I can say about these matters as they may be the subject of investigations and future courtcases. I am also constrained in what I can say about them due to my obligations under the new Protected Disclosures legislation.

Regarding the claims in question, he says that, following preliminary inquiries carried out in the Department since 1998, files were sent during 2004-2010 to a number of appropriate authorities – “the ODCE, the Gardai, the Revenue Commissioners, the Mahon Tribunal and the Moriarty Tribunal“.

Some of these bodies have reported on the allegations in question and I understand the Gardai investigated them at that time and sent a file to the DPP.

“In relation to the question of a statement under section 19 of the Companies Act 1990, following a request from me to my officials, this matter has been worked on for some time, advice is currently being finalised, and I expect that this statement will be forwarded by my Department to the relevant authorities very shortly. 

This statement relates to wide-ranging and complex matters dating back over many years, and while this work was not completed as quickly as expected due to retirement of key personnel, I am advised that all matters contained in the statement are covered by the documents already submitted to the relevant authorities.

The Minister says he also notes the statement last night by Gardaí which said that matters raised in the dossier were investigated back in 2007, and a file sent to the DPP.

“The relevant legislation provides for the carrying out of preliminary inquiries on these matters by the authorised officer in my Department; and for the forwarding the material gathered from these inquiries to the appropriate authorities for any further action.

Any decisions as to whether to proceed with further action remains a matter for the relevant authorities, and further questions in relation to the progress of these investigations should be directed to those bodies.

Speaking last night, the Taoiseach said the allegations contained in the dossier would be fully examined by the Public Accounts Committee.

Asked if he was aware of any minister in Cabinet having knowledge of the documents, he said he understood there was “a delay in the issue of some documentation because of the retirement of a public servant and because of pressure of work”.

Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald called this morning for Enda Kenny to make a further statement on the issue, to outline what contact had taken place between the whistleblower and Government members.

Gardaí have said that they will investigate “any new or further information” on the claims that comes to light.

First posted at midday.

Read: Dossier of politician ‘tax-dodging’ claims handed to PAC

Read: Another 69 weeks: Joan Burton reckons the General Election will happen in March 2016

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