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Ireland linked to global web of tax avoidance

Date Released: 05 April 2013

Dozens of Irish addresses have been linked to accounts held in offshore secrecy jurisdictions, allowing their holders to avoid paying their fair share of tax.

A worldwide investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has found between 50 and 60 addresses in Ireland in documents, which include the identities of thousands of wealthy account holders who hold their wealth in offshore tax havens. None of the names linked to Irish addresses have yet been released by the ICIJ or the Guardian and other media organisations which co-operated in the extensive search of offshore holdings.

It is estimated globally that wealthy individuals have €16 to €25 trillion hidden in offshore tax havens.

SIPTU Economist, Marie Sherlock, said: “That such vast sums of money have been removed from the global tax net means funding is being withheld for services and investment aimed at ensuring a better standard of living for the majority of people.”

All the Irish addresses may not be directly linked to individuals or businesses who own the secret funds and could be registered to financial intermediaries, including directors, shareholders, secretaries and nominees holding addresses within the State.

Complex offshore structures have been used to own mansions, yachts and other assets while giving account holders the benefits of anonymity and tax advantages.

Marie Sherlock added: “That Ireland has been linked to this global network does not assist the State in ensuring it is not marked with the tag of being a tax haven. There is also the concern that, in a time of recession, the wealthy may be slipping into the practices of the past.

“During the 1980s, vast amounts of private wealth was illegally held offshore by swaths of the Irish elite, a situation which deepened the impact of economic recession for the Irish people. These issues should be of concern to the Government and require a swift response.”

An early release of some of findings of the investigation by the Guardian last November traced British Virgin Island entities used in Russia by bankrupt property developer, Sean Quinn.

The former billionaire is linked to a number of properties in Russia and Ukraine. The International Bank Resolution Company is currently seeking to recover as much as $500 million (€385) million in assets from Quinn’s investments in both countries.

The documents analysed in the investigation were passed to ICIJ director, Gerard Ryle, on a hard drive containing more than 260 gigabytes of data with over two million emails.

The ICIJ along with dozens of journalists from a network of international media outlets, including the Guardian, BBC and the Washington Post, worked on analysing the files for 15 months.

 


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