Former AIB executive comes full circle with its Isle of Man activities

Paradise Papers highlight relationship between AIB and Appleby law firm

AIB has been caught up in the controversy around offshore tax avoidance by wealthy customers following the leaking of the Paradise Papers. Photograph:  Cyril Byrne

AIB has been caught up in the controversy around offshore tax avoidance by wealthy customers following the leaking of the Paradise Papers. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

The relationship between AIB and the Appleby offshore law firm’s office in the Isle of Man is an extraordinarily intimate one.

Not only do the leaked files that came from the law firm, the so-called Paradise Papers, include documents from when the office was providing legal advice back through the ages to AIB in the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

They also contain documents and accounts from the operation of the offshore operations in the wake of the decision to close them and wind the businesses down.

One individual features prominently. Sean Dowling was a director of AIB Isle of Man back in the late 1990s. The earliest note on the files that mentions his name is from 1998, when he was sent a bill by law firm Dickinson, Cruickshank & Co, of Douglas, who had provided services to the offshore bank.

By 2001, when the files show he swore an affidavit to do with an account in the Isle of Man belonging to Patrick Burke, the late father of former Irish minister Ray Burke, for the purposes of the planning tribunal, Dowling was managing director of AIB Bank (Isle of Man) Ltd.

In 2003 he left the bank and took on a role with Dickinson, Cruickshank. He qualified as a lawyer in 2007 and became a partner in 2008. In 2009 Appleby, which had started out in Bermuda, continued its expansion through the offshore world by buying Dickinson, Cruickshank in the Isle of Man and changing its name.

When the decision was made to close AIB offshore and run down its operations, AIB outsourced the work. Appleby got the gig and, as a result, Dowling found himself back on the boards of his old banks. By this stage, he was managing partner with Appleby Isle of Man.

In 2015, there was a management buyout of Appleby’s corporate, trust, funds and accounting services company, with the new group being called Estera.

Dowling is the Isle of Man manager. The outsourced AIB business is now being operated by Estera.

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