A Cork man described as the “controlling mind” behind a £20m tax scam is to seek a Supreme Court appeal over his pending extradition to the UK for failing to pay a confiscation order amounting to almost £13m.
Daniel O’Connell (65), with an address at Ballybrack, Clonlara, Co Clare and Roseneath, Corbally, Co Limerick, had opposed his extradition on several grounds including delay.
He also argued that to imprison him would breach his fundamental rights under the European Convention of Human Rights.
It was also submitted that as O'Connell is currently “indigent”, or poor, he should not be surrendered to serve a penalty where a rich person would not have to do so.
However, Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly rejected all of Mr O’Connell’s grounds and ordered his extradition to the UK last Friday.
Ms Justice Donnelly refused leave to appeal her judgment today but put a stay on her order pending an application to the Supreme Court for leave to appeal.
In a 47-page written judgement last week, Ms Justice Donnelly said the High Court was “satisfied that there is no basis for refusing his surrender or referring his case further to the Court of Justice of the European Union.”
She said the High Court can only refuse to surrender someone “where there is a real risk that his rights cannot be protected or were not protected in the issuing state because of a defect in the system of justice there such that it would be egregious to surrender him”.
“No such evidence has been put forward,” she added.
Mr O’Connell was convicted in Middlesex Guildhall Crown Court on August 9, 2000, for five offences of VAT evasion between August 1, 1996 and March 25, 1999.
He was subsequently jailed for eight years but released in March 2003 on licence.
In addition, in January 2003, Mr O’Connell was also made subject to a confiscation order for almost £6m to be paid by May 2004 - for which an additional sentence of seven years’ imprisonment would be imposed in default of payment.
The court previously heard that, to date, £354,407.41 has been paid towards Mr O'Connell's confiscation order.
It also heard that, by September 2016, this confiscation order had a balance outstanding of nearly £6m plus accrued interest of over £5.8m.
Mr O’Connell was subsequently arrested in 2017 on foot of a European Arrest Warrant issued by the UK authorities.
The warrant, the High Court heard, stated that because Mr O’Connell failed to pay the confiscation order in full by May 2004, his default sentence was activated and his extradition was being sought so that he could be returned to prison in order to serve this part of the overall sentence.
The warrant, issued by Westminister Magistrates Court in London in 2016, outlined Mr O’Connell's involvement with five companies all of which became “missing traders” and for all of which he was acting as the “controlling mind”.
It stated that the five companies all failed to submit a VAT return and/or failed to account for any VAT to Her Majesty’s Customs & Excise during periods when their respective trading was substantial.
The five “missing trader” companies made sales of over £119m on which the VAT due would have been approximately £20m from 1997 to 1999.
However, the companies accounted for only £17,086.00 in VAT during the relevant period.