06 Nov Irish banks exposed in Paradise Papers
Irish MEP Matt Carthy has called for the Irish government to investigate the links between AIB and Bank of Ireland to the Appleby law firm at the centre of the Paradise Papers.
Carthy, a member of the ongoing inquiry into the Panama Papers in the European Parliament, said: “The Paradise Papers leak reveals that AIB has effectively obstructed attempts by Revenue to gain access to information on its offshore clients for the past 20 years, aided by the corrupt law firm Appleby.
“AIB has actively disguised the relationship between the parent bank and its offshore branches in the Isle of Man and Jersey in order to take advantage of the banking secrecy in place in these jurisdictions, universally acknowledged as tax havens.
“This is not a simply a lack of customer due diligence on the part of AIB – it is no diligence at all. In fact the bank has been actively marketing its offshore ‘services’ to the ultra-rich based in Ireland and Britain over decades – including during a period when the bank had been bailed out with €7 billion in taxpayers’ money and was under government ownership and control.
“Crucially, AIB appears to have ignored a court order brought by Revenue to provide it with information on its offshore clients in 2015, and sought to keep its data offshore in order to keep it from the scrutiny of the Revenue Commissioners. The public need to know the outcome of this court order and what, if any, action has been taken to follow up on AIB’s refusal to cooperate with a government agency.
Carthy continued: “Banking secrecy has to end. Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar’s comments that tax-dodging needs to be left to the OECD is just not good enough, and it reveals his ignorance on this matter.
“The issues raised by the Paradise Papers relate primarily to standards on banking secrecy and transparency, customer due diligence, and anti-money laundering, which are set at the international level by the Financial Action Task Force and, within the EU, by the anti-money laundering directive.
“We need the swift and full implementation of all aspects of the fourth AMLD, and for the government to support strengthening the requirements beneficial ownership and trusts in the fifth AMLD currently under discussion. Beneficial ownership registries which name the flesh-and-blood owner of the account need to be public. Crucially, we need to legislate to end the situation where the parent bank in the Irish state is able to conceal its control of its offshore subsidiaries with the stroke of a pen.
“Finally, we need to change the toothless mandatory disclosure regime that requires banks and law firms to report potentially abusive tax arrangements to Revenue. Just last month, Revenue revealed in response to Sinn Fein questioning that only 11 disclosures of potentially abusive tax schemes have been reported since the introduction of the mandatory disclosure regime in 2011 – a laughable figure that reflects the weakness of the loophole-ridden legislation.”