Revenue has secured a High Court injunction preventing landlord Paul Howard from disposing of his assets to below approximately €2.3 million, which he owes in tax and statutory interest.
In granting interim relief freezing these assets until November 16th or further order, Mr Justice Senan Allen said he was satisfied Revenue had presented a "strong case" alleging that Paul Howard may continue to sell his properties and dissipate the sale proceeds unless restrained by order of the court.
The judge made a number of orders on an ex parte basis, with only Revenue represented, including an order restraining the landlord from drawing on funds from a number of identified accounts. Mr Justice Allen noted material evidence that Mr Howard has "substantial ties" to foreign countries, having apparently lived in Spain and done business in Turkey over the years.
The orders were made in circumstances where Shelley Horan BL, instructed by Michael Commons of Ivor Fitzpatrick & Company Solicitors, for Revenue, said her client had "serious concerns" about the defendant's activities regarding his assets.
The court heard Mr Howard, with an address at Larkfield Avenue, Harolds Cross, Dublin 6W, was to be notified on Tuesday evening of the orders.
According to an affidavit sworn by Joseph Howley, collector general at the Office of the Revenue Commissioners, Revenue commenced in 2009 an investigation into the defendant's tax affairs. Mr Howley said the defendant conducted much of his business through cash, of which a significant amount had been unaccounted for.
The Tax Appeals Commission (TAC) determined in August of this year, he said, that the defendant owed approximately €1.2 million together with statutory interest of €1.1 million for the years spanning 2002 to 2014.
Mr Howard has no further means of appeal and has missed the November 5th deadline to agree to Revenue's payment criteria, which is the reason for the timing of the ex parte motion, said Ms Horan. She said that Mr Howard has a large property portfolio that he had been renting out, but "all of a sudden" he appears to be selling off some of his properties.
The manner in which the defendant has been allegedly dissipating assets recently is “suggestive of efforts to avoid any enforcement attempt by Revenue”, said Mr Howley in his affidavit. Three or four of his homes were sold in the run-up to the TAC appeal, while a further four properties are currently listed for sale, it was claimed.
The whereabouts of the proceeds of the sale of these properties are unknown, Revenue claims. Funds for one property were allegedly visible in a bank account for a short period, with frequent cash withdrawals of up to €15,000 made over a two-month period, it is alleged. Ms Horan said questions have been raised as to what Mr Horward has been doing with the sale proceeds of these properties.
Ms Horan said the landlord had “at every step” of Revenue’s investigation into his tax affairs frustrated its ability to obtain information from him regarding his monies and taxes. The commissioner had to issue statutory notices under the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 requiring him to hand over additional information, she said. On these occasions new bank accounts were identified on behalf of the defendant and Revenue discovered investments in Turkey he had not disclosed, she said.
After making the various orders, Mr Justice Allen adjourned the matter for a week.