Ireland: Why didn't Revenue sue HSBC?
11 February 2015
Posted by: Author: Shane Phelan
Author: Shane Phelan (Irish Independent)
The Revenue Commissioners has defended its decision not to pursue a case against HSBC for facilitating tax evasion by Irish nationals.
Tax officials insist there was not sufficient admissible evidence to mount a case against the banking giant over the activities of its Swiss branch.
In one case detailed in the Swiss Leaks files, a bank official gave assurances that account details would not be disclosed to Irish authorities.
The account belonged to Tralee businessman John Cashell, who made a €102,000 settlement with the Revenue last year.
Despite what appears to be clear evidence Mr Cashell was assisted in committing an offence, Revenue only pursued the businessman and not the bank.
However, it insists it acted correctly.
"Revenue took relevant action in any case where sufficient admissible evidence was available, to bring a criminal prosecution in relation to any identified Revenue offences," it said in a statement.
The statement said that after French authorities gave Revenue details of Swiss HSBC accounts linked to Ireland in June 2010, an assessment and evaluation process took place.
This found no further liability arose in the State in a number of cases, while in others further investigation was required.
To date 33 investigations have been initiated, with 20 of these resulting in settlements of €4.55m. Three prosecutions were secured and a fourth is pending.
Revenue would not provide specific information on the cases which had already been through the courts.
When asked if €4.55m was a reasonable amount to have recovered given that, at one stage, the Swiss HSBC accounts contained €3.1bn linked to 350 clients associated with Ireland, Revenue said the existence of a foreign bank account was not evidence of tax evasion.
"No liability will arise where relevant tax is paid on the funds in the bank account and on any interest accruing in the account," it said.
The article first appeared on independent.ie.