Bruton to meet official alleging tax evasion by politicians

Enda Kenny says witness statement by senior civil servant was sent to the Garda

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton today said a witness statement provided by an employee of his department who investigated tax evasion claims linked to senior politicians and others has been forwarded to the relevant authorities. Photograph: Aidan Crawley.

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton today said a witness statement provided by an employee of his department who investigated tax evasion claims linked to senior politicians and others has been forwarded to the relevant authorities. Photograph: Aidan Crawley.

 

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton is to meet the senior official in his department who has alleged tax evasion involving senior politicians.

This was revealed in the Dáil today by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who said the witness statement made by the official, Gerry Ryan, had been cleared by the department and sent to the Garda.

Last week, Mr Ryan provided a dossier to members of the Public Accounts Committee containing the allegations.

Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary asked Mr Kenny to confirm the dossier was originally referred to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE), the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation (GBFI), the Revenue Commissioners and the tribunals in place at the time, in 2005.

Mr Kenny replied the answer was “Yes”.

Earlier, Mr Bruton said the witness statement provided by the department official had been forwarded to the relevant authorities.

Mr Ryan had been critical of the Minister for not passing on the statement sought by gardaí which was first given to him almost two years ago, in December 2012.

Mr Ryan, who last week sent a dossier on the tax evasion claims to members of the Dáil Public Accounts Committee under Protected Disclosures legislation, had accused Mr Bruton of “interference with the administration of justice” in failing to forward his statement, which he said had been sought by the GBFI.

A statement issued by Mr Bruton’s department this morning said: “Following finalisation of the various procedural matters under legislation and advice from officials, the statement under the Companies Act 1990 has now been forwarded to the relevant authorities.”

The department has not said when precisely gardaí first sought the witness statement.

It said all matters contained in Mr Ryan’s statement “are covered by the documents already submitted during the years 2004-2010 to the relevant authorities”.

“It would be extremely unwise for any Minister or politician to get involved or interfere in any way with investigations by these bodies, and Minister Bruton has been careful to respect these principles throughout this process,” the statement said.

“Any further questions in relation to the progress of these investigations into alleged tax evasion should be directed to the independent bodies responsible for carrying out these investigations.”

The department said Mr Bruton was “constrained in what he can say about these matters as they may be the subject of investigations and future court cases” and because of the new Protected Disclosures legislation.

“Bodies like the Revenue Commissioners, the ODCE, the gardaí, the DPP and tribunals are independent precisely to ensure that politicians are kept out of investigating issues like tax evasion.”

Mr Ryan was appointed as an authorised officer under company law in 1998 by then minister for enterprise Mary Harney to investigate an alleged tax evasion scheme. However, he expressed unhappiness at how information he said he had uncovered was dealt with by ministers of various governments and by a variety of State agencies.

Mr Bruton said at the weekend that while work on dealing with the witness statement after it was provided by Mr Ryan was not completed as quickly as expected due to retirement of key personnel, it would be given to gardaí very shortly.

The Public Accounts Committee has sought legal advice on whether it can examine the dossier sent to its members by Mr Ryan and is to discuss the matter when it meets tomorrow.

A Labour member of the committee, Robert Dowds, yesterday called on the Revenue Commissioners to state publicly if allegations of tax evasion involving senior politicians has been investigated in recent years.

He said the principal concern of law-abiding taxpayers would be that a private banking arrangement existed for the well-connected in Irish society which was outside the purview of the Revenue Commissioners.

The Revenue Commissioners did not comment last night on Mr Dowds’s statement.

Asked about the matter this morning, Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin said he did not know the details of the report sent to the Public Accounts Committee members but that, from what he had read in the papers, “all of these matters have been fairly exhaustively investigated up to this point”.

He said it was now up to the committee to decide if the matters had been adequately investigated, and if not, who should investigate them now.