Lowry says payment to property consultant was fully tax compliant
Michael Lowry: "That transaction was properly recorded and accounted for."
Independent TD Michael Lowry has responded to media reports of an alleged undeclared payment by him more than a decade ago by saying that the money paid was properly recorded and was fully tax compliant.
The Sunday Independent yesterday published the transcript of what it said was a 13-minute telephone conversation in 2004 between Mr Lowry and Kevin Phelan, a property consultant based in Omagh, Co Tyrone.
In the transcript Mr Lowry, a Dáil deputy for Tipperary North, refers to a payment of “200 or 250” (presumably €200,000-250,000 or £200,000-250,000) paid by him to Mr Phelan. Mr Lowry is quoted as saying he never declared the payment that was made. The former Fine Gael minister yesterday insisted the payment in question was fully recorded, accounted for and was fully in compliance with all tax obligation.
According to the transcript, part of Mr Lowry’s purpose in making the call was to establish the payment was not connected with an entity called Glebe Trust, which Mr Phelan described as his family trust. He wanted confirmation from Mr Phelan that he [Mr Lowry] had nothing to do with Glebe Trust.
The transcript of the recording suggests Mr Lowry was concerned that if the payment was connected with Glebe Trust it would look “as if I had a beneficial interest in [the] f****** Doncaster [Rovers site], which I had not”.
Transactions surrounding the purchase of the Doncaster Rovers site formed part of the inquiries of the Moriarty tribunal into the business dealings and connections between Mr Lowry and the media and communications mogul Denis O’Brien, whose company won the competition for Ireland’s second mobile phone licence when Mr Lowry was the minister for communications.
“Now, the 200 – the 250 – that I gave you, I never paid that directly, I never put that through my books or my account or anything,” Mr Lowry purportedly told Mr Phelan in the course of the conversation.
However, in a statement released last night, Mr Lowry said the payment referred to in the Sunday Independent was made by his company Garuda limited on his behalf.
“That transaction was properly recorded and accounted for in the records and accounts of Garuda Limited. The payment referred to is fully tax compliant,” he said.
Gardaí were due to begin a review of the recording in an effort to establish whether it contained any matters that warranted criminal investigation.
The recording was received on Saturday by the Garda from the newspaper and was addressed to the Criminal Assets Bureau. Garda sources said while the bureau may be asked to handle the matter it was possible another specialist Garda unit or the Revenue Commissioners would be involved.
The bureau will carry out the initial review and will then make a decision on any further action that might be taken.
Fianna Fáil called on Mr Lowry to clarify all the issues. It also called for the recording to be forwarded to Mr Justice Michael Moriarty for examination.
Lowry statement ‘Records show I never had any direct or indirect shareholding or beneficial interest in Doncaster Rovers’
Edited version of Michael Lowry’s statement:
I refer to the Sunday Independent extensive coverage of an alleged taped telephone conversation. My business dealings have been the subject of intense scrutiny over a prolonged period leading to several false and inaccurate reviews.
The payment referred to in the Sunday Independent was made by my company,
Garuda Limited, on my behalf. That transaction was properly recorded and accounted for in the records and accounts of Garuda Limited. The payment referred to is fully tax compliant. The register at the UK Land Registry and company records clearly show that I never had any direct or indirect shareholding or beneficial interest in Doncaster Rovers or its associated companies.
I also confirm that I never had any material or beneficial interest in “Glebe Trust”.