The Government will move to close any tax or company law loopholes that allow people and businesses to use Ireland as a de facto offshore location, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said.
Mr Varadkar said that some of the arrangements, revealed in documents as part of the Pandora Papers, would appear to be “dubious” and he said Ireland wants nothing to do with these structures.
The Pandora Papers, which the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists shared with The Irish Times, the BBC, the Washington Post and 146 other media partners around the globe, is the largest investigative project in history, involving more than 600 journalists.
The Irish Times has established that an empty office in a serviced office building on Lower Fitzwilliam Street, Dublin 2, is the registered address of more than 800 limited partnerships, a type of legal structure designed to allow investors invest in businesses while limiting their exposure.
“It is really only in the last two days that I got a chance to read some of the revelations from Pandora’s Box [sic]. Certainly they are a matter of concern, we discussed this as party leaders just earlier on,” Mr Varadkar said on Monday.
“We are still only starting to hear about these things, these are new revelations, this is new news. It would appear on the face of it that some of the arrangements that may be routed to Ireland are very dubious. We certainly don’t want to be part of any supply chain that people use to conceal their assets. There is nothing in that for us, we don’t want any part of it.”
He said the Government has initiated a review of tax and company law arrangements starting immediately.
“What we have decided is that we would ask the officials in my department to examine this issue from a company law point of view and the Revenue Commissioner from a tax law point of view. If we need to make some changes and close some loopholes, we will do that.
“We have a company law Bill in the Dáil every year and a finance Bill so we are going to initiate that work right away and make the necessary changes in company law, or tax law, or both to ensure that it is not the kind of thing happening in our country because we don’t want any part of it.”
Christian Aid Ireland’s head of policy and advocacy, Sorley McCaughey, said the Pandora Papers were “a timely reminder that the era of tax secrecy and tax havens is far from over”.
“They expose the extraordinary wealth that rich people are able to stash in anonymous companies and in tax havens beyond the reach of the tax authorities,” said Mr McCaughey in a statement.
“Global leaders who have lectured about corruption, shown to be among those who have used complex structures and tax havens to hide their assets, are depriving their citizens of revenue that could be spent on improving health, education and strengthening the judiciary.”
Mr McCaughey said Ireland had a responsibility to act, and should “get out in front and push for global efforts to increase financial and corporate transparency”.