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Saturday, 6 July, 2002, 12:45 GMT 13:45 UK
Ansbacher report lifts 'veil of secrecy'
Director of Corporate Enforcement, Paul Appleby, published the report
Director of Corporate Enforcement, Paul Appleby
A long-awaited report into the biggest financial and political scandal to hit Ireland has been published exposing the names of nearly 200 clients who held accounts with a "sham" bank.

Former members of the Irish parliament, the landed and the wealthy, are among those who used Ansbacher (Cayman) between the 1970s and 1990s.

The clandestine bank, which was unauthorised to operate in Ireland, was used by some to evade paying tax at a time when Irish people faced some of the highest rates in Europe.

Mary Harney said it was time to life the
Mary Harney says the public has a right to know what went on

Those named on the list live in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Britain, the US, Spain, France and Australia .

Deputy prime minister Mary Harney said the report was a damning insight into "a world of conspiracy, fraud and tax evasion" over many years.

She said: "Secrecy was the lifeblood without which these activities could not have endured.

"The report is important because it demonstrates that we in Ireland now have the capacity and the courage to lift the veil of secrecy - and the determination to enforce the law."

Tax evasion

The Ansbacher scandal started in the early 1970s when Des Traynor, the late financial adviser to former Irish PM Charles Haughey, used his position on the board of Guinness and Mahon to set about establishing offshore subsidiaries in the Channel Islands and the Cayman Islands.

The Cayman subsidiary was eventually bought by the Henry Ansbacher group and renamed Ansbacher (Cayman).

The report concludes unambiguously that a variety of individuals and corporations knowingly promoted widespread tax evasion

Mary Harney
Clients deposited tens of millions of pounds with Ansbacher which was treated, for tax purposes, as if it were lodged offshore.

But Mr Traynor was holding the cash in Ireland and ran the business from his central Dublin headquarters.

The scam also involved offshore trusts, foreign-registered companies and complicated financial manoeuvring.

Political scandal

The report found: "Mr Traynor facilitated the operation of sham trusts on behalf of Ansbacher's clients.

"There is also evidence to show that the discretionary trust scheme facilitated widespread tax evasion.

The nation was shocked that such activity had occurred and had remained effectively hidden from official authorities for so long

Paul Appleby

"The inspectors are satisfied that there is evidence tending to show that some of the clients of Ansbacher availed of its services for that purpose and did so with Ansbacher's knowledge."

Ansbacher's cover was blown when an inquiry into the affairs of businessman Ben Dunne discovered payments of more than 1m to Mr Haughey.

It led to the biggest political scandal Ireland has ever seen and set in train the inquiries into Ansbacher.

A number of clients are now living abroad and their names are not being posted on the internet for legal reasons.

Ireland's director of corporate enforcement Paul Appleby stressed at a press briefing in Dublin that being named in the report did not constitute a finding that any individual evaded tax.

However he added: "I have no doubt that other relevant state authorities such as the Central Bank, the Revenue Commissioners and the Director of Public Prosecutions, will closely evaluate their own legal options in the light of the information contained in this report."

He said his office would now be supporting efforts to recover the 3.2 million euros (2m) cost of the report, which took three years to compile, runs to 10,000 pages and weighs 25 kilos.

The Irish parliament is to come back from its summer recess next week to debate the findings of the Ansbacher report.

BBC NI's Mary Campbell:
"The report, which investigated offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands, was published on Saturday"
See also:

27 Jul 00 | N Ireland
21 Jul 00 | N Ireland
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