More than 30,000 Irish company directors registered offshore
Figures for active and inactive companies show extent of use of offshore jurisdictions by Irish companies
Sark, an islet in the Channel Islands with a population of about 600, has more than 11,000 directors registered to Irish firms – 18 for every island resident
More than 30,000 Irish firms have directors registered in offshore jurisdictions.
Figures obtained by The Irish Times from online company data provider Vision Net show that at least 31,400 companies in Ireland have directors registered in offshore jurisdictions like the British Virgin Islands and the Seychelles. These figures include the names of active as well as inactive companies.
The island of Sark appears to be one of the jurisdictions of choice for offshore company directors. In Sark, an islet in the Channel Islands with a population of about 600, there has been more than 11,000 directors registered to Irish firms – 18 for every island resident.
Place for correspondence
Irish businesses with directors registered in offshore jurisdictions appear
to be significantly less than the number of UK companies, of which more than 175,000 have directors in offshore jurisdictions.
This is down to a difference in the registration process for companies in the two countries. In the UK it is possible to nominate a place for correspondence other than a residential address as a director in company filings, however there is no such option in Ireland.
It is not illegal for companies to have a director registered in an offshore jurisdiction, nor does it indicate that the business may be participating in any illicit activity. The figures reported will also include personal services companies, which allow self- employed individuals to register as a limited company.
However most offshore jurisdictions offer advantageous tax regimes and a degree of anonymity for the end beneficial owner of a business.
Stable legal system
Chartered Accountants Ireland director of taxation Brian Keegan says: “The reason that the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man would be very popular is they’re UK crown dependencies, they have a very stable legal system, a well-established banking system and are English-speaking, whereas that’s not necessarily the case in some of the other territories.
“Another really important reason for selecting where you register is the network of tax treaties. There are some countries which have extensive information exchange and mutual recognition arrangements with them.”
Keegan adds: “Not everything is done for tax reasons, it can be done for reasons of confidentiality, though anonymity is pretty much gone as the OECD has carried out a huge project which was prompted by the G20.
“This was the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, to eliminate tax havens at the risk of countries being blacklisted by the OECD.”
The rules put in place by the OECD mean a request for access to data about beneficial company owners must be complied with. However, even once a formal request has been made by an official authority the data is not necessarily publicly available.
The figures come as the offshore secrets investigation, run by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, has uncovered a number of nominee directors working out of territories across the world.
One companys named by the investigation is Atlas Corporate Services, which had six directors operating from
Dubai and the Seychelles and who controlled more than 5,400 global companies.