‘I paid Revenue what was due, and that was it’, says Dr Michael Cuddy

Galway economist had account with HSBC in Geneva after working abroad

 

An economist based in Galway who had an account with HSBC in Geneva has said it was suggested to him by an official there that he switch his money from a personal account to an offshore trust.

The file on Dr Michael Cuddy’s account with HSBC included a reference to trusts but, he told The Irish Times, he informed the Irish authorities that this was a proposal, made by an official in the Swiss bank, which was not proceeded with.

“It was an idea floated to me by someone in the bank that I never took up,” he said. “Someone in the bank suggested that it would be safer that way. I don’t remember exactly why.”

He said when the revenue asked him about the matter, he told them the idea was never proceeded with, but also disclosed to them that he had “a normal investment account” with HSBC that contained money that he had earned when working abroad and was not tax resident in Ireland. “That was information that they didn’t have but I decided to disclose everything,” he said.

Dr Cuddy said he ended up paying capital gains tax on profit he had made one year as a result of the money in the account being invested. “It went up and down. I lost it all afterwards.”

He said the most he ever had in the account was approximately €100,000.

Asked why the money was in a Swiss account, he said he earned it while working abroad and put it in the bank following the receipt of advice. He couldn’t remember exactly what the issue was. “It was not really a tax issue.” He said he dealt with HSBC over the phone or by email. He never discussed the European Savings Directive with the bank, he said.

Dr Cuddy made a settlement in the third quarter of 2013. He paid €19,887 in tax and €23,220 in interest and penalties. The settlement was listed in Iris Oifigiúil as involving the under-declaration of income tax and as being a Revenue offshore assets investigation.

He said his engagement with the Revenue was “ a long drawn out process” but that he had found them to be very professional. “It was not really important. I paid them what was due, and that was it.” He said the amount he had in the bank was modest and that he was “not disturbed” when he heard that information on HSBC accounts in Switzerland had been given to tax authorities.

He said this was because he knew there were others involved who had very large amounts in their accounts that was money that had been hidden from the tax authorities and was not unhappy about these people coming to the attention of the tax authorities.

Dr Cuddy is a shareholder in, and director of Galway-based GDSI Ltd, an international development consulting company the clients of which include the European Commission, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the UN, and others.

It has also done work for national, regional and local development agencies in Ireland and in the EU, according to its website.