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Irish Parliament To Probe Manx Bank Deposits

Jason Gorringe, Tax-news.com, London

06 December 2000


The influential Public Accounts Committee of the Irish Parliament (the Dail) is to probe the "quite amazing amount of money" held by Irish banks and institutions on the Isle of Man. The scale of the amounts, variously reported at between £3 and £4 billion, is likely to open a new chapter on ongoing enquiries into tax evasion in Ireland.

The Public Accounts Committee Chairman, Mr. Jim Mitchell, has called for jail sentences for "white collar crime". He told the media: "I'm a little taken aback that despite all that's come out in this inquiry to date, here's still the old culture of non-deterrence, non-prosecution, and non-custodial sentences for white-collar crime. This committee will not tolerate a Mickey Mouse response, we want effective deterrence. We don't want people in jail just for the fun of it, we want them in jail to make sure a lesson goes out to other people that tax evasion becomes a highly unfashionable thing in this country."

Mr Mitchell was presumably referring to the long-running Ansbacher affair and the DIRT (Deposit Interest Retention Tax) scandal, both of which involved highly-placed Irish public figures who seem to have been encouraged or anyway allowed to subvert Irish tax laws by covertly placing funds in Jersey, the Cayman Islands and other offshore centres. Although the Government has lists of the people involved, and some of the banks concerned have made compensation payments to the tax office, no-one has been subjected to a criminal prosecution, perhaps on the basis that 'everyone was doing it' (other than Mr Mitchell, of course), so that no-one wants to throw the first stone.

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