AG has not advised on tax evasion dossier - Kenny
Taoiseach says very important tax evasion claims be ‘teased out and investigated’
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton. Mr Kenny today said Mr Bruton’s department had not been in contact with current Attorney General Maire Whelan about a report containing allegations of tax evasion by senior politicians and others since she was appointed in 2011. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times.
The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation has not been in contact with Attorney General Máire Whelan about a file containing allegations of tax evasion by senior politicians and others since her appointment in 2011, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.
In a dossier outlining his inquiry into tax evasion sent to the Public Accounts Committee last week, civil servant Gerry Ryan said he had written to Ms Whelan and Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton about his investigation but received no response.
Speaking to reporters in Galway today, Mr Kenny said the department last contacted the Attorney General’s office seeking advice about the tax evasion allegations in 2010, which was before Ms Whelan’s appointment.
“The Attorney General or her office are not authorised to advise in respect of the designated civil servant, because there might be a conflict of interest in advising the department and in advising the minister,” he said.
“So a senior counsel was appointed directly to deal with the public servant appointed by the previous minister to look at this matter,” Mr Kenny said.
Mr Kenny acknowledged that Mr Ryan had written to Ms Whelan in July 2011 to point out that he had prepared a witness statement requested by the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation (GBFI).
“So, he informed the Attorney General that that was what he was doing, that was what his letter had indicated, that he had prepared the witness statement at the request of the GBFI,” he said.
“So there was no further contact from the Department of Jobs with the Attorney General since her appointment, in other words, the Department of Jobs have not been in touch with the Attorney General’s office about advice or jobs since December 2010.”
“There wasn’t any contact with the Department of Jobs and the Department of the Taoiseach. I checked this with the Department of the Taoiseach,” he said.
Mr Ryan, a chartered accountant who was appointed to investigate offshore accounts in by then minister for enterprise Mary Harney in 1998, accused Mr Bruton of “interference with the administration of justice” by not forwarding the witness statement sought by gardaí and first given to the Minister in December 2012.
Mr Bruton said at the weekend that the witness statement would be sent to the relevant authorities “very shortly” and that any delays were linked to staff retirements.
Mr Ryan also maintained Mr Bruton failed to acknowledge two emails sent to him in March 2011 as well as a registered letter sent to his home in Dublin later that month in which he requested a short meeting to deliver a briefing note and background information regarding his claims about tax evasion involving senior politicians.
“In my view all of this demonstrates a total lack of support on your part for the prosecution of the alleged wrongdoing referred to above and the publication of evidence relating to that possible wrongdoing,” Mr Ryan said in a letter sent to Mr Bruton in October last year.
Mr Kenny said Mr Bruton “has spoken about this and has said that he himself is constrained in what he can say because of the legal implications that are here”.
“He has pointed out the fact that all of the issues that were involved here have been concerned with five different elements of the State , the Garda, the Revenue Commissioners, the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, the Mahon and the Moriarty tribunals, and all of the information in this dossier to my understanding has been sent for quite some time to these agencies.”
The Taoiseach said he had spoken to Mr Bruton directly on the issue. “I would stress again that the Garda themselves issued a statement saying that they had investigated it fully - the matters that were referred to them - and that a file had been prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions. So that’s the story,” he said.
Mr Kenny noted that the Public Accounts Committee had sought seeking legal advice on the dossier and said he had “no doubt they will take that advice and act accordingly with it”.
He said “it’s very important, obviously, that these matters be teased out and investigated”.