Well-known Dublin criminal Martin 'the Viper' Foley loses appeal over €881k tax bill

Well-known Dublin criminal Martin 'the Viper' Foley loses appeal over €881k tax bill
Martin "the Viper" Foley in 2002.

Well-known criminal, Martin "the Viper" Foley, has lost an appeal over a tax bill running to hundreds of thousands of euro.

The 1990s tax demand ballooned to more than three-quarters of a million euro due to interest over his failure to fully discharge the original bill over an 11-year period.

The Court of Appeal has said Foley had "no case" and dismissed his appeal. It also said it is well known and a matter of public policy that citizens should pay their taxes in a timely manner.

"He well knew that he had an unpaid bill for taxes due, he well knew that interest was accruing, he had no basis for believing those taxes would not ultimately be pursued and so it was totally within his power at every stage to stop the interest clock from running and to cap the interest bill," the Court of Appeal said.

Ms Justice Marie Baker said Foley is believed to have engaged in criminal activity and "enjoyed substantial gains" from this and "other unknown sources."

He was assessed for a total income tax for 1993-94 and 1999-2000 at €218,000 (IR£172,000). He appealed and submitted returns claiming his actual income for the two years was €72,000 and the tax due was just €19,000.

He also paid off a small amount of the demand which was a requirement of being allowed to appeal.

His appeal was refused and he brought another appeal to the Revenue Appeal Commissioner and also submitted revised returns saying his income for the two years involved now was €133,000 and his tax bill should be around €50,000.

He made four further payments which brought down the original tax bill to €178,000. The Appeal Commissioner also rejected his appeal and he did not appeal the matter further to the Circuit Court or bring a High Court challenge as he was entitled to do.

It continued not to be paid and in 2013 the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) sued him for €881,000, including the outstanding €178,000 and nearly €634,000 in interest accrued between 2002, when he made his last appeal, and 2013.

The High Court granted summary judgment for the total bill and he then brought an appeal against that claiming he had been unduly prejudiced by the CAB's 11-year delay in bringing the judgment proceedings.

He claimed he had been "taken by surprise", was left in "an almost impossible situation" and the CAB had failed to explain why it took 11 years to bring the judgment application.

The High Court rejected the challenge and he appealed saying that court had, among other things, erred on the facts and in law and failed to attribute sufficient weight to CAB's delay in prosecuting the case. The CAB opposed the appeal.

Today, Ms Justice Baker, on behalf of the three-judge appeal court, said there was no basis for any confidence on his part that he would not be pursued for the tax.

While an 11-year delay in the CAB bringing proceedings was arguably inordinate, he had not discharged the onus for proving that it was inexcusable.

Having regard to his obligation to pay the tax promptly, the level of his knowledge of that bill, and the absence of any specific prejudice other than the size of the bill itself, the judge did not believe the delay was inexcusable. The balance of justice also did not prevent the CAB from maintaining its claim for the interest.

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