Developer owing over €1m in unpaid taxes could face jail, judge warns

Judge tells James Jordan to come to a settlement with Revenue if he wants to avoid prison

James Jordan (51) of Laochfail, Outfarm Lane, Castleknock, Dublin, has been urged to reach  agreement with Revenue or face a likely custodial sentence. Photograph: Collins Courts

James Jordan (51) of Laochfail, Outfarm Lane, Castleknock, Dublin, has been urged to reach agreement with Revenue or face a likely custodial sentence. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

A judge has told a property developer who owes more than €1 million in unpaid taxes and penalties that he faces jail if he doesn’t come to a settlement with Revenue.

James Jordan (51) of Laochfail, Outfarm Lane, Castleknock, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to knowingly and wilfully submitting 16 incorrect VAT returns, six incorrect income tax returns, four incorrect invoices and three false claims of income tax relief.

The case was listed for sentence on Tuesday but Judge Sinéad Ní Chúlacháin adjourned it to January 18th next to allow Revenue time to assess a settlement offer made by Mr Jordan.

The judge said that, on Monday, she received a letter marked “private and confidential” which referred to the case. She said she did not read the letter and wouldn’t be taking any private correspondence into consideration.

“Justice is administered in public,” she said.

The court heard that Mr Jordan came to the attention of a special Revenue unit looking at high wealth individuals as a result of a large property portfolio he held in the 2000s.

Former Revenue officer Elizabeth Keane testified that Mr Jordan was required to pay capital gains tax on the sale of five properties which he sold for a total value of €1,960,500 between 2004 and 2010 and that he failed to do so.

She said the tax returns he submitted during that period were incorrect due to the failure to pay capital gains tax. He also submitted four incorrect invoices which lowered his VAT liability.

Judge Ní Chúlacháin noted that Mr Jordan had failed to pay tax on rental income and had waived a tax exemption on this income to which he was entitled in order to offset it elsewhere.

She said he made a number of false claims for income tax relief for properties he owned. This relief was ineligible because the properties were not registered to the then Private Residential Tenancies Board.

Previous conviction

The total figure owed by Mr Jordan when interest and penalties were factored in was €1,236,881.

Mr Jordan has one previous conviction, from 2017, for failure to file an income tax return.

Séamus Clarke SC, defending, said Mr Jordan ran a carpet business and that people would lose their jobs if he was given a custodial sentence. He also said that, if Mr Jordan was jailed, there would be “no hope” of him paying the money back.

At a hearing earlier this month, Mr Clarke handed in letters written by those who know Mr Jordan and hold him in high esteem. One of the letters described Mr Jordan as being “very honest”.

Judge Ní Chúlacháin remarked “very honest; not so much”. She questioned whether the person who wrote the letter was aware of the offences to which Mr Jordan had pleaded guilty.

She noted that Mr Jordan was a self-made man who left school early and went on to build a large property portfolio. She said his fortunes suffered during the financial crash but noted the first offending in this case dated back to before the crash.

She said Mr Jordan had made a formal offer of settlement to Revenue. Noting the maximum custodial sentence as five years, the judge said the case fell mid-range for this type of offending and set a headline sentence of 2½ years.

She said she would reduce this by 20 per cent on consideration of the mitigating factors, including the guilty plea, and the fact that he is the primary carer for a teenage son.

She also noted his 86-year-old mother is blind and that he has a number of employees working for him.

She urged Mr Jordan to use the adjournment of the case to reach an agreement with Revenue or face a likely custodial sentence.

She adjourned the matter until January 18th next and ordered a report into his suitability for community service to be produced for the court.