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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.


Death Of Tom Stapleton, Thurles, Co. Tipperary

It was with great sadness that we learned of the death, on Monday 11th June 2018, of Mr Thomas (Tom) Stapleton, Curragheenduff, Coalbrook, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

Predeceased by his wife Alice; Mr Stapleton passed away yesterday at his residence.

His passing is most deeply regretted by his son P.J.; daughters Alma and Monica; daughter-in-law Sarah; sons-in-law Seán and P.J.; grandchildren; great grandchild; brother; sisters; brothers-in-law; sisters-in-law; nieces; nephews; extended relatives; neighbours and friends.​

Funeral Arrangements
The earthly remains of Mr Stapleton will lie in repose at O’Connell’s Funeral Home, Killenaule, Thurles, tomorrow evening, Wednesday, from 4.30pm to 7.00pm, to arrive at the Church of The Assumption, Ballingarry at 7.30pm.

A Funeral Mass will be held on Thursday at 12.00 noon, followed by interment immediately afterwards in the Old Churchyard Cemetery.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.


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.


Tipperary Library Service, Celebrate ‘Cruinniú na nÓg’.

Ms Suzanne Brosnan, (Senior Library Assistant), Thurles Library, Cathedral Street, Thurles, Reports:-

Tipperary Library Service will celebrate Cruinniú na nÓg (Translated from the Irish language – “Meeting of the Young”), through numerous activities planned for their family fun-day here in Thurles Library, taking place on Saturday 23rd June from 11.00am4.00pm. All the child-centred events are totally free and activity based, with plenty of opportunities for children to ‘make and create’.

Thurles Library

We look forward to our magic show with Jelly Bean Julie from 11.00am in the hopes to dazzle and amaze our younger children, join in our puppet show, try balloon modelling and get your face-painted.

Our interactive drum and fun sessions area is a perfect way to bring upbeat and high energy to both children and their parents. Fergal O’Connor will be available for 3 sessions throughout the day starting, at 12.30pm.

Running alongside these events we will run Art and Crafts Work Stations throughout the day, with local artist Ms Danielle Martin of ‘Masquerade Parties’ and, weather permitting, we hope to take the artistic designs of the children onto the board-walk for a “Pavement Art” session.

For those who love to create, learn new skills and just have fun with Lego, LearnIt will host 3 workshops over the course of the day, dealing with Junior Robotics, Senior Robotics and Senior Engineering. LearnIt promotes working as a team, creative thinking,  while solving problems through this interactive and fun workshop, all by using Lego.

Please note: Bookings are now open for the Learnit Workshops, with Junior Robotics, suitable for 7-9 years taking place at 11.00am12.15pm; Senior Robotics, suitable for children aged 11 years plus, taking place at 12.30pm2.30pm; and Senior Engineering, suitable for persons aged 9 – 12 years, taking place 2.45pm4.15pm.

Summer Stars Reading Challenge 2018

Tipperary Library Service will also launch the “Summer Stars Reading Challenge 2018” at 12.00 noon. “Summer Stars” is an exciting reading-based programme which is available free of charge to all children across the country. Children are invited to register for the reading adventure and enjoy reading many books throughout the summer months. All participants will be given a Summer Stars Reading Card to record and track their own progress.

Contact: Telephone: 0761 066131 during normal working hours 9.00am to 5.00pm (Closed for Lunch 1.00pm-2.00pm) or E-Mail: thurleslibrary@tipperarycoco.ie

So, do come along and be part of Cruinniú na nÓg and enjoy a day of guaranteed fun with your family at Thurles Library, where you are guaranteed to find something for just about everyone.


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.