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Last Updated: Monday, 24 January, 2005, 13:42 GMT
Former minister jailed over tax
Ray Burke was jailed for two tax offences
A former government minister in the Irish Republic has been sentenced to six months in jail for tax offences.

Former justice minister Ray Burke, 61, was sentenced at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Monday after pleading guilty to making false tax returns.

He had been charged with knowingly or wilfully furnishing incorrect information during the government's tax amnesty of 1993.

Mr Burke had failed to declare an income of 91,980.

He also admitted knowingly or wilfully furnishing incorrect information to the Inspector of Taxes on or after December 1993 by failing to declare income of 24,038.

Judge Desmond Hogan said Mr Burke had abused his position as a legislator.

However, the judge said he was taking into consideration the fact that Mr Burke suffers from depression and anxiety and also the fact that he had pleaded guilty at an early stage, thus saving time and money.

Mr Burke faces legal bills of 7m. The investigation by the Criminal Assets Bureau began in 2000 and, in a search at his home, a folder showed he had failed to declare his income fully over nine years.

He had declared income from deposit accounts at just over 5,000 for the period 1982 to 1991, however the real figure was more than 97,000.

Earlier in the case, Mr Burke's lawyer, Patrick Hunt, said his client was now tax compliant and urged the judge not to jail him.

Leading role

Mr Burke was a leading politician with Fianna Fail from the 1970s up to the late 1990s.

He held a number of key positions in government, the last when he was appointed foreign affairs minister in 1997 by the current Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern.

However, in September 2002, Mr Justice Feargus Flood found that Mr Burke had received tens of thousands of dollars in corrupt and secret payments from businessmen.

He made public his findings in an interim report of the Flood Tribunal - set up to investigate allegations of corruption in planning and land deals in the Republic of Ireland.

Mr Justice Flood's report said Mr Burke was paid thousands of dollars by property developers, beginning with a payment for the purchase of his home in north Dublin.

In 1989, when he was Ireland's Communications Minister, the report said Mr Burke received a bribe from a group applying for a radio licence.

Mr Burke always maintained the payments were legitimate political donations.



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