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Court Hears Not One Cent Owed By Lowry In Unpaid Taxes

Day four of the trial involving Independent Tipperary TD Mr Michael Lowry, together with the refrigeration company Garuda Ltd, concluded today’s session in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, in connection with alleged tax offences; same purportedly having been committed some 16 years ago, back in 2002.

Court No. 9, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

The trial, which is expected to continue for a further seven days, was informed that Tipperary TD, had not withheld even one cent of his tax liability, and had in fact taken a second mortgage out on his family home to meet tax liabilities, which could easily have been written off through Limited Liability had he allowed his company Garuda Ltd, to “go to the wall”.  A later witness to take the stand, chartered accountant Mr Neale O’Hanlon,  further agreed that in relation to tax liability, Mr Lowry had been most anxious to discharge his debts, so that his company; the jobs of his employees; creditors and clients who depended on him, would not be future endangered.

The court heard confirmation that a €1.26 million settlement which had been finalised in 2007, were furnished through monies loaned by Lowry to Garuda Ltd to deal with these same tax liabilities. It was again confirmed to the court that Lowry had never once opted to liquidate Garuda, choosing instead to re-mortgage his family home, in his efforts to raise the demanded €1.26 million settlement by Revenue.

Yesterday evening the court heard that the prosecution were completely satisfied that the Isle of Man company, named as “Glebe Trust”, was and is, the sole creation of one, Mr Kevin Phelan and that TD Michael Lowry had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the same, said company.

Those following this case are aware that Mr Lowry has fully denied conniving with his refrigeration company, Garuda Ltd, to furnish an incorrect return; thus providing incorrect information. He has also denied causing his company Garuda Ltd, to fail to follow correct accounting procedures with regard to the recording of a payment. He further denies knowingly making an incorrect tax return for the financial year 2002, in relation to commission involving the sum of some €372,000; latter a payment correctly due from the Finnish refrigeration company, named as Norpe OY.

At today’s hearing the trial heard evidence from witnesses Mr Neale O’Hanlon and Mr Kieran Bourke from the BBT Accountancy firm; both the latter, who had previously been involved in auditing Garuda’s 2006 accounts, back in 2007 some eleven years earlier.

Mr Kieran Bourke, a former employee of BBT Accountancy, who had previously undertaken most of the overview of the work during the audit, stated that he had not been made aware of a letter forwarded by Mr Lowry to BBT directing that the €372,000 receipt should be included in the 2006 accounts.

The letter on Streamline Enterprises headed paper; latter which was the trading name of Garuda Ltd., was dated 15th January 2007. In it, Mr Lowry stated that he wished to advise his accountants that following the issue of an  invoice to Norpe OY in respect of money outstanding to the value of €372,000, in 2006, he requested that the obtained payment of this amount was made directly to himself. But he said, this was in fact money which was correctly due to the company and sought that it be returned and reflected in his accounts with the tax paid and set against his director’s loans.

Accountant Mr Kieran Bourke stated that the insertion of these figure into an accounts document, had been undertaken by Mr Neale O’Hanlon and had not in fact been recorded by him.

Barrister for Garuda Ltd, Mr Patrick Treacy SC, put it to Mr Kieran Burke, that one of the charges against the company and indeed against Mr Lowry was that the company failed to keep proper books of account. The Senior Counsel then put it to Mr Burke that Garuda’s defence to this charge was that it believed it had employed a competent and reliable person under company law to ensure its books were fully compliant. Mr Burke agreed that his then firm was more than competent enough to have conducted the audit.

Mr Neale O’Hanlon confirmed that this submission letter from Mr Lowry would have been drafted by the accountants, and then signed by Mr Lowry, and confirmed he could not recall bringing it to Mr Burke’s attention.

Mr O’Hanlon confirmed that he was not fully aware that the payment had actually been made in 2002 and not in 2006, until he met with Mr Michael Lowry, following notification by the Revenue Commissioners of their investigation in 2013. Had he been aware he would have dealt with it differently in the 2006 accounts.

Under cross examination by Lowry’s Senior Council, Mr Neale O’Hanlon confirmed, again today, that the Revenue Commissioners had raised assessments against Mr Lowry and Garuda Ltd, which had totalled over €1 million; however same had been reduced to zero, following an appeal decision by the Appeal Commissioners, thus further confirming that not one cent of tax currently remained unpaid to date, by either Michael Lowry or indeed Garuda Ltd.

Mr O’Hanlon fully agreed it was very possible that confusion had arisen with Mr Lowry in 2007, regarding the €372,000 payment.

His trial will continue tomorrow morning in Court No 9, before Mr Justice Martin Nolan and his jury of eight men and four women.

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