Latest: Michael Lowry thanks people of Tipperary for support over '22 years of turmoil' after conviction

Update - 7.30pm: Outside court, Mr Lowry said the conclusion of the case has been "a fantastic result".

Saying he had entered the criminal courts building as a free man and he was leaving as a free man, he said: "I'm thrilled for my family, my relatives, for my staff and for the people of Tipperary who have been so loyal and steadfast in their support for me during 22 years of absolute turmoil.

"So for me today is the beginning of the end. It has been a fantastic result.

"To hear the judge say I'm a conscientious taxpayer, a good public representative, a good employer and that I saved my company by re-mortgaging house when it was in difficulty, what more could I ask for?"

Mr Lowry said it had been a very traumatic time for him, adding that he had been "pilloried, vilified, at times it was humiliating but this today is the culmination of 22 years of investigations, of enquiries".

"I've had six different investigations and inquiries, it has been non-stop full stop for 22 years," he said.

He added: "Those writing about me and speculating about me, you have to acknowledge that today is for me personally ... a huge day in my life.

No one [can] understand unless you're in the position if you've been harassed, chased and hounded by various institutions of the State.

"It is only when you're in that position, but fortunately I had the strength, courage and conviction. I knew in my heart and my head that I did not do the kind of wrongs portrayed in such a way.

"I look forward to getting back to my people of Tipperary and to enjoy the fact that I'm no longer under investigation. Today is a huge day of my life.

"Nobody understands unless you're in the position of being harassed, chased and hounded by various institutions of the state.

"Fortunately I had the strength, the courage, and the reason I had was simple, I knew in my head and in my heart that I didn't do the type of wrongs that was portrayed in such a way."

He also thanked his solicitor Michael Collins, who he said has been with him "every step of the way".

Following the case, Mr Lowry released a statement this evening, which you can read in full below:

"The conviction today before Dublin Circuit Criminal Court relates to the submission of incorrect accounts filed on behalf of Garuda Limited for 2006.

"The accounts were incorrect. They overstated the position in respect of corporation tax owed by €45,000 approximately.

"The overpayment arose as a result of an earlier error in the 2002 accounts which had resulted in an underpayment of corporation tax in a similar amount. The adjustment in the 2006 accounts was for the purpose of rectifying this.

"The net effect of the adjustment was that there was an underpayment of corporation tax in the sum of €5,541.00.

"The Revenue Commissioners commenced an investigation into my affairs and that of Garuda Limited in 2013. The Revenue Commissioners acknowledge that both myself and Garuda cooperated in their investigation.

"The Revenue Commissioners also raised an assessment against me in respect of alleged Income Tax due arising from the underpayment. The assessment sought a sum of €1.1 million from myself and the company in respect of the unpaid tax. I appealed this assessment and was successful. The Income Tax due was assessed at nil.

"Notwithstanding this finding, the Revenue Commissioners persisted in prosecuting me for submitting an incorrect return on Income Tax. The Judge directed the Jury to enter a finding of not guilty on this charge at the close of the prosecution case. In addition to my acquittal on a Charge of filing an Incorrect Tax Return in 2002, the DPP also entered a Nolle Prosequi in relation to Charges of filing incorrect accounts and incorrect information in 2002

"The trial Judge went on to observe that the nature of the case against me had changed following this ruling and that the outstanding charges were far less serious.

"In imposing a fine only on Mr Lowry and Garuda, Judge Martin Nolan observed that the Revenue Commissioners are not at any loss as a result of these matters. He said that Mr Lowry had no previous convictions, that he was a good employer and clearly a very good Public Representative. Judge Nolan remarked that Michael Lowry never had the intention to evade tax and that he is 'a conscientious taxpayer' who had put his hand in his own pocket in order to save his Company in difficult times.

"Judge Nolan made it clear that he did not believe that either a custodial sentence or community service would be appropriate. Mr Lowry was fined €15,000 on an incorrect Corporation Tax Return in 2006 while Garuda was fined €10,000 for not keeping proper books of account."

- Digital Desk

4.30pm: Judge fines 'conscientious taxpayer' Michael Lowry €15k for failing to keep proper set of accountsIndependent TD Michael Lowry and his refrigeration company have been fined a total of €25,000 for tax offences after a judge ruled that a custodial sentence would be “inappropriate”.

The politician and Garuda Ltd, were convicted earlier today by a Dublin Circuit Criminal Court jury of two charges each of delivering an incorrect corporation tax return and failing to keep a proper set of accounts.

Judge Martin Nolan made his ruling after a verdict was delivered by the jury, on day 12 of the trial, just before lunchtime today.

The judge referred to Lowry as a “conscientious taxpayer” having accepted evidence that he previously “put his hand in his pocket” to settle a separate €1.4 million tax bill, which had been owed by Garuda and dated back to 1997.

“Whatever was his motive for the 2006 actions, it was not to evade tax,” Judge Nolan said before he added that “honest tax returns are very important” in terms of self-assessment of tax.

He said the court was dealing with “a very narrow series of events”.

“Everyone is aware he has been involved in certain controversy,” Judge Nolan said before he added these offences were offences of process. He noted that Revenue has not been at a loss in relation to what occurred.

Judge Nolan accepted that the politician had no previous convictions, was a good employer and a very good public representative.

“The proof of the pudding is in the eating. He has been re-elected,” the judge said.

He noted that the maximum sentence available to the court was a five-year term but said he didn't think a custodial sentence was appropriate in the case.

He fined Mr Lowry €15,000 personally and Garuda €10,000. He also disqualified Lowry from acting as a director of the company for three years.

“He seems to have rescued his company. If he had not put in a substantial cash infusion into the company it would not be operating at present,” Judge Nolan said. He was referring to evidence that Lowry re-mortgaged his home to pay the €1.4 million tax bill in 2007.

Finally, Judge Nolan remarked: “This is to Mr Lowry's credit. I would not like to fall on the wrong side of Mr Oliver”.

Henry Oliver is the tax inspector who was responsible for bringing the case forward for criminal investigation.

1.16pm: Michael Lowry and company guilty of failing to keep proper set of accounts

By Sonya McLean

Independent TD Michael Lowry and his refrigeration company has been convicted of two charges of delivering an incorrect corporation tax return and failing to keep proper set of accounts.

The jury of three women and eight men returned the verdicts on day 12 of the trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court following just over eight and half hours deliberation.

Michael Lowry

The jury were unable to reach a decision on four remaining charges before them.

Judge Martin Nolan said he will sentence Mr Lowry later this afternoon and remanded him on continuing bail.

It was the State's case that Mr Lowry's company, Garuda Ltd, trading as Streamline Enterprises received Stg £248,624 (€372,000) in commission from Norpe OY, a refrigeration company based in Finland, in August 2002.

It was alleged that Mr Lowry arranged for this payment to be made to a third party, Kevin Phelan through the Glebe Trust based in the Isle of Man, and therefore it didn't appear in the company accounts for that year.

It is further alleged that the accounts were then falsified in 2007 to reflect that the payment was received in 2006.

Last week Judge Nolan told the jury that a charge of delivering an incorrect tax return for 2002 had been withdrawn.

Mr Lowry (64) of Glenreigh, Holycross, Co. Tipperary, had pleaded not guilty to four charges of filing incorrect tax returns on dates between August 2002 and August 2007 in relation to a sum of Stg £248,624 received by his company, Garuda Ltd and one charge in relation to failing to keep a proper set of accounts on dates between 28 August, 2002 and August 3, 2007.

He further pleaded not guilty on behalf of Garuda Ltd to three similar charges in relation to the company's tax affairs and one charge of failing to keep a proper set of accounts on the same dates.

The charges against Mr Lowry outlined that the offences were committed with the consent or connivance of Michael Lowry who was at the time a director, manager, secretary or other officer of Garuda Ltd.

Both Mr Lowry and Garuda were charged with knowingly or willingly delivering to the Inspector of Taxes of the Thurles District incorrect accounts in connection with corporation tax for year ending 31 December 2002 and delivering incorrect information in connection with the corporation tax for year ending 31 December 2002, to wit an incorrect corporation tax computation.

The politician and his company were also both charged with delivering an incorrect return in connection with corporation tax for year ending 31 December, 2006 and that between August 28, 2002 and August 3, 2007, Garuda Ltd failed to keep proper books of accounts within the meaning of Section 202 of the Companies Act 1990 insofar as the said books did not correctly record and explain the transactions of the company.

The prosecution's key witness, Henry Oliver, in the investigation unit of Revenue, told the jury that he had looked into the €372,000 payment in August 2013 and assessed it as an emolument (a wage or salary) earned by Mr Lowry.

He said he determined Mr Lowry owed income tax on the figure and Garuda owed PAYE and PRSI on the sum. He assessed the total owed to Revenue, including penalties and fine, as being €1.1 million.

Mr Lowry's defence team did not accept that the €372,000 constituted an income, but rather said the money was owed to the company as commission from Norpe.

The jury heard that both Michael Lowry and Garuda Ltd successfully challenged the Revenue assessment before the appeals commission in April 2015.

The assessment was reduced to nil, meaning that neither Mr Lowry nor Garuda owed anything to Revenue.

It was because of this evidence that Michael O'Higgins SC, defending, applied for a direction of not guilty by the trial judge on the basis that “there was no case to answer”.

The State didn't oppose the application. Judge Nolan withdrew the charge and the trial continued with the remaining eight charges in connection to the corporation tax associated with the €372,0000.

Judge Nolan told the jury during his charge last Friday that the issue in this case was what Mr Lowry knew.

He said the jury must be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr Lowry knew the money was not included in the company accounts and tax computations.

He said Mr Lowry's explanation was that he had instructed a staff member to raise an invoice in 2002, assumed this had been done and the money automatically entered on the company's accounts.

The judge told the jurors that they must be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that this explanation is not true in order to convict.

He said if they found the explanation reasonably believable, then they must acquit.


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