A judge has told a property developer who owes more than €1m in unpaid taxes and penalties that he faces jail if he doesn't come to a settlement with Revenue.
James Jordan (51) of Laochfail, Outfarm Lane, Castleknock, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to knowingly and wilfully submitting 16 incorrect VAT returns, six incorrect income tax returns, four incorrect invoices and three false claims of income tax relief.
The case was listed for sentence today but Judge Sinéad Ní Chúlacháin adjourned it to January 18 next (2019) to allow Revenue time to assess a settlement offer made by Jordan.
The judge said that on Monday she received a letter marked “private and confidential” which referred to the case. She said she did not read the letter and wouldn't be taking any private correspondence into consideration.
“Justice is administered in public,” she said.
The court heard that Jordan came to the attention of a special Revenue unit looking for high wealth individuals due to his having a large property portfolio in the 2000s.
Former Revenue Officer Elizabeth Keane testified that Jordan was required to pay capital gains tax on the sale of five properties which he sold for a total value of €1,960,500 between 2004 and 2010 and that he failed to do so.
She said the tax returns he submitted during that period were incorrect due to the failure to pay capital gains tax. He also submitted four incorrect invoices which lowered his VAT liability.
Judge Ní Chúlacháin noted that Jordan had failed to pay tax on rental income and had waived a tax exemption on this income which he was entitled to in order to offset it elsewhere.
She said he made a number of false claims for Income Tax relief for properties he owned. This relief was ineligible because the properties were not registered to the PRTB.
The total figure owed by Jordan when interest and penalties were factored in was €1,236,881. This figure includes a VAT liability of €162,945 and a liability for €297,974 in capital gains gain.
The balance of €775,962 owed by Jordan was made up of interest and penalties.
Jordan has one previous conviction from 2017 for failure to file an income tax return.
Séamus Clarke SC, defending, said Jordan ran a carpet business and that people would lose their jobs if he was given a custodial sentence. He also said that if Jordan was jailed there would be “no hope” of him paying the money back.
Mr Clarke handed in letters written by those who know Jordan and hold him in high esteem. One of the letter described Jordan as being “very honest”.
Judge Ní Chúlacháin remarked “very honest; not so much”. She questioned whether the person who wrote the letter was aware of the offences to which Jordan had pleaded guilty.
She noted that Jordan was a self made man who left school earlier and went on to build a large property portfolio. She said his fortunes suffered during the financial crash but noted the first offending in this case dated before the crash.
She said that Jordan had made a formal offer of settlement to Revenue. Noting the maximum custodial sentence as five years Judge Ní Chúlacháin said the case fell in the mid range of this type of offending and set a headline sentence of two and a half years.
She said she would reduce this by 20% on consideration of the mitigating factors, including the guilty plea, and the fact that he is the primary carer for a teenage son.
She also noted his 86-year-old mother is diagnosed blind and he has a number of employees working for him.
Judge Ní Chúlacháin urged Jordan to use the adjournment of the case to reach an agreement with Revenue or face a likely custodial sentence.
She adjourned the matter until January 18 next and ordered a report into his suitability for community service to be produced for the court.