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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.


Revenue Witness Confirms Appeal Commissioners Reduced Lowry Taxes To Nil

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

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

Revenue Witnesses
Two senior officials gave evidence on behalf of the Revenue Commissioners, during the course of today’s hearing.

First to appear on the stand was Mr Kelly an Information Technology (IT) expert, employed by Revenue and supporting Revenue’s ROS system (Revenue On Line Service).

Mr Kelly explained briefly at the behest of prosecuting barrister Mr Remy Farrell SC, to the Jury of eight men and four women assembled, how ROS worked. He however was unable in some cases to confirm details regarding tax rules associated with the ROS System, requiring barrister Farrell to further confirm that Mr Kelly was more akin to IT technology, than taxes legislation.

The second witness for the prosecution, Mr Thomas Keating; the latter a former, now retired Senior Tax Inspector at Thurles Tax Office, sitting then in the heart of Mr Lowry’s constituency of North Tipperary, from January 2006 to October 2014, was next called to give evidence.

The Court was to learn that an income tax return for the year ended 2002 had been submitted on behalf of Mr Lowry in October 2003, using the new Revenue Online Service (ROS). This return indicated that the accused had accrued a total income of some €151,050, including a public office salary of €69,515, but as he had already paid P.A.Y.E for that year, it remained that he had no tax liability and had in fact overpaid his taxes by some €136.00.

A Corporation Tax Form, also known as a CT1 form then submitted on behalf of his company Garuda Ltd, by his accountants concluded that it operated at a loss of almost €100,000 for the year ending December 31st, 2002 and as such no tax liability existed, but rather a refund of €3,500 was justly due.

A CT1 form submitted in August 2007 for the year ending 2006 stated that Garuda Ltd had an income of just over €915,000 and a tax liability of some €114,000.

The Tax Inspector, Mr Keating, agreed with Mr Patrick Treacy SC, defending Garuda Ltd, that the declaration on the CT1 form received on behalf of Garuda for that year (ending 2002), forwarded by his accountants was neither “signed nor dated”. He further confirmed that same should not have been acted upon, due to the fact it bore no signature.

Mr Keating further accepted, under pressure, from Mr Patrick Treacy that the ‘fine print’ as such on such a declaration form provided, states that the person signing the document agrees that everything included in the form, to the best of the clients knowledge, is correct and complete. In this case there was no signed statement made on that CT1 form that none of the boxes were then deemed as being either correct or complete, due to the forwarded declaration remaining unsigned.

Mr Patrick Treacy asked Mr Keating if he had heard Mr Farrell’s original opening statement of the previous day e.g. “Cooking the books not once but twice” and “Putting toothpaste back into the tube” ; to which Mr Keating muttered, “I wasn’t in court, but I heard it on the RTE news.  Mr Treacy, defending, continued “Surely, when the CT1 form is not even signed, the lid can’t have been even removed from the toothpaste tube and the books couldn’t have been cooked”.

Mr Keating further agreed with defence barrister Mr Michael O’Higgins SC, that his client’s tax agent, BBT Accountants had received a letter from Revenue on August 26th, 2013, concerning the sum of money that currently “remains the core issue of this case”.  Mr Keating fully accepted that this letter clearly stated that Revenue considered that the sum of  £248,624 (Stg), received in 2002, constituted income for tax purposes. It further outlined that Mr Lowry now owed income tax on same, along with penalties in the form of levies and fines; same totalling some €516,000.

Mr Keating also further accepted that a similar letter was issued to Garuda Ltd, stating that this company owed some €510,000, which again included the original tax, penalties etc.

Mr Keating had no problem in agreeing that Mr Lowry and Garuda had a perfect right to challenge Revenue’s then findings, through use of the Appeal Commissioners, same the highest authority in the land. The same Appeals Commission assessed both Mr Lowry’s and Garuda’s tax liability and agreed that same be both reduced to a NIL liability, in effect stating that both Mr Lowry and his company Garuda each individually had nothing more to pay.

The trial will continues before Mr Justice Martin Nolan and his jury of eight men and four women tomorrow morning.


Lowry Trial Gets Under Way Today At Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

Independent Tipperary TD Mr Michael Lowry, together with the refrigeration company Garuda Ltd, have gone on trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court today, in connection with alleged tax offences, same purportedly having been committed some 16 years ago, in 2002.

The Tipperary TD pleaded not guilty to five charges of filing incorrect tax returns on dates between August 2002 and August 2007, in relation to the sum of £248,624 (Stg) received by the company, Garuda Ltd, when Mr Lowry was a director of that company. Mr Lowry also denied four counts of failing to keep proper books of accounts.

A Jury, consisting of eight men and four women were sworn in this morning, in front of Mr Justice Cormac Quinn.

The trial hearing was moved from court No 7 to court No 9, when it convened after lunch with Mr Fred Ramberg the former CEO of a Finnish Refrigeration Company, latter known as Norpe OY, who had transacted business with Garuda Ltd.

Using a video-link from Finland, and while in the presence of a Finnish female Judge, Mr Ramberg took the oath in Finnish, before informing the Jury that his company had “an agency agreement” to pay commission to Mr Michael Lowry’s company, for sales introduced by his company here in Ireland.

Mr Ramberg agreed with prosecuting barrister Mr Remy Farrell SC, that if his company, Norpe Oy, supplied to retail outlets here in Ireland, same having been introduced by Mr Lowry; a commission would be paid to Streamline Enterprises, the trading name for Mr Lowry’s company Garuda Ltd.

The witness agreed with Revenue’s Counsel that an agency agreement, signed by both he and Mr Michael Lowry, on November 1st, 1997, outlined the final “terms of agreement”, that the agent should be entitled to a commission of 5% on all sales introduced to Norpe OY, by Mr Lowry.

Mr Ramberg further confirmed that his company’s agreement was between Norpe OY and Mr Michael Lowry, however Mr Lowry’s name had been crossed out and handwritten in its place was ‘Glebe Trust’, with an address in the Isle of Man. Mr Ramberg agreed that he had written in this change himself and he (Mr Ramberg) had also initialled that change. He was unable to indicate the date, when he actually did this. He further confirmed that he had no personal knowledge as to the identity of a company known as “Glebe Trust”.

Mr Michael O’Higgins SC, defending Mr Lowry, informed Mr Ramberg that his client claimed he was holidaying in Spain, back in August of 2002, when a person to whom he owed money, had, in his absence, placed him under stress to make an immediate payment. Mr Ramberg confirmed that he was advised by his accounts department of the need to make necessary changes with regards to the commission outstanding. Mr Ramberg insisted that no payments were ever made by Norpe Oy, without an invoice being received, and this remained his companies strict policy at all times.

Mr Ramberg confirmed that after 1997, he had very little dealing directly with Michael Lowry, doing business mainly with Mr Patrick (Pat) Lowry, brother of the accused.

Before the video link was closed, Mr Ramberg requested a payment of €500 be paid to him by the State, who agreed that, had he travelled to Ireland, the cost to the Irish State would have been far greater, taking into account travel and subsistence, including accommodation expenses. Prosecuting barrister Mr Remy Farrell SC for Revenue agreed, with the presiding judge also in agreement.

A direct ‘Question & Answer’ statement / interview taken by Finish police, and given by Norpe accounts department employee Ms Stella Lipponen, was then read to the Jury. Ms Lipponen confirmed a payment of €388,788.12 was paid on August 28th, 2002, and that the payee invoice referred was to Glebe Trust.

Due to a technical fault in Court No 9, Ms Lipponen’s statement was not put on screen for the Jury to view, however this technical glitch is expected to be corrected by tomorrow and the statement / interview will be placed in evidence early tomorrow morning.


Lowry To Appear Before Dublin Central Criminal Court

The Dublin Central Criminal Court, situated at Parkgate Street, Phoenix Park, Dublin 8, is expected to be the venue on Wednesday (June 6th) next, in the trial of Tipperary Independent TD Mr Michael Lowry, latter accused of allegedly filing incorrect income tax returns for the year 2002 (some 16 years ago) and of allegedly conniving in the delivery by his company, Garuda Ltd., (latter a refrigeration company owned by the former cabinet minister) of incorrect corporation tax returns for the years ending 2002 and 2006.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had previously secured an order transferring this trial from the Tipperary Circuit Criminal Court to the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. This secured order was perceived as stating in effect that a Tipperary jury could not be trusted to comply with their oath or indeed any warning given by a trial judge.

We understand that the case taken by the Revenue Commissioners will be heard by Mr Justice Martin Nolan.  Judge Martin Nolan will be remembered for his imposition of a previous sentence based on his principles of ‘punishment and deterrence’, in the jailing of Mr Paul Begley, head of the fruit and vegetable importers Begley Brothers Ltd, Blanchardstown, Dublin, whom he jailed in March 2011, after the latter admitted avoiding customs duty on garlic imported from China.

Later, in March 2013 the Court of Criminal Appeal (CCA) ruled that Mr Justice Nolan had erred in principle by overlooking, or not properly valuing, a number of mitigating factors which had been pleaded on Mr Begley’s behalf and that the landmark Revenue sentence was not proportionate to the crime committed.

Mr Lowry over the past number of years has strongly denied charges of allegedly filing incorrect income tax returns for the year 2002 and of conniving in the alleged delivery by his company Garuda, in incorrectly filing Corporation Tax returns for the years ending 2002 and 2006.

He also denies a fifth charge, brought under provisions of the Companies Act, of wilfully causing a company to fail to keep proper accounts, between August 28th 2002 and August 3rd 2007.  The transaction which gave rise to the prosecution involved a €372,000 payment, due to Garuda by a Finnish company, Norpe OY.

This prosecution was initially grounded on Revenue calculations that Mr Lowry had a personal tax liability of some €516,000, including interest and penalties, while Garuda had a liability of some €510,000, however those calculations were later disproven by Revenue Appeals Commissioners, who confirmed that Mr Lowry had no tax liability and Garuda had a €38,000 liability, which had been long since paid.

Their was no suggestion that Revenue officers had acted in bad faith, but all had operated on the wrongful conclusion that Mr Lowry and his company had a global tax liability of some €1m.

This unusual 16 year old Revenue prosecution case, is expected to be found extremely difficult to comprehend by any sworn body of people, (jury) convened to render an impartial verdict, officially submitted to them by a court.


Oratory Medal Of Mr Justice D. F. Gleeson Goes On View In Thurles

Miss Jane Bulfin, (Research Librarian with the Tipperary Studies Section of Thurles Library), pictured here with the Dermot F. Gleeson gold medal.

A gold medal for ‘Oratory’, awarded in 1917-1918, by the Incorporated Law Society of Ireland to historian, author and Co. Clare District Justice for some 20 years, Mr Dermot F. Gleeson, has now been returned on long term loan to his beloved county of Tipperary.

Born in 1896 in Nenagh, Co. Tipperary into the family of Michael Gleeson, Mr Dermot F. Gleeson was a pioneer of Tipperary local history. His publications include “The Last Lords of Ormond” (1938) and “A History of the Diocese of Killaloe” (1962).

Mr Gleeson also contributed dozens of articles to learned journals and indeed the popular press, discussing a wide variety of aspects relating to local history. He was also a hard-working District Justice and was the youngest of a batch of twenty-seven District Justices to be appointed to the new Irish Free State of 1922. Mr Gleeson, would sufferer a heart attack and pass away, while attending a recreated Medieval Banquet as a guest in Bunratty Castle, on September 23rd, 1962, aged 66 years. (R.I.P.)

The one hundred-year-old unique gold medal now takes pride of place in the Tipperary Studies section of Thurles County Library, this week at The Source, Cathedral Street, Thurles, and can be viewed during their normal hours of opening.

This unique piece of Tipperary history was kindly presented to the Tipperary County Council Library Service on long-term loan by Mr Donough Gleeson, latter son of Mr Dermot F. Gleeson. The Gleeson family recently travelled here to Thurles from their home in England, to make the presentation, happy in the knowledge that this Gold Medal, has been returned to Mr Gleeson’s native homeland on this, the centenary of his first receiving this prestigious award.

The Tipperary Studies section of Thurles Library is also the home to many of Mr Dermot F. Gleeson literary and historic publications.