The leaking of details about a raid on the home of tax cheat Michael Lowry has been criticised by his solicitor, who said it is part of a 20-year campaign to damage the politician.
The former Fine Gael minister was at his home in Holycross yesterday. However, he did not make any public comment about searches by tax officials at his house, his constituency office, and a separate business premises in Dublin.
Michael Collins is representing the Tipperary North TD in a new High Court dispute over an outstanding €1m accountancy bill.
He said there was a serious issue with how information was made available to the media “hours after an incident took place”.
“The media onslaught since one o’clock today clearly demonstrates that the principal of taxpayer confidentiality has completely and totally been trampled on as far as this individual is concerned,” said Mr Collins. “It is typical of 20 years of selective leaks concerning this man.”
Mr Lowry did not return calls or text messages. His son, Cllr Micheál Lowry, said he was not aware of the raids by Revenue.
The reasons for the raids are not known. They came six years after Mr Lowry and his company, Garuda Ltd, made a combined €1.4m tax settlement. These concerned money paid by Ben Dunne, originally probed by the McCraken Tribunal.
Following the publication of the Moriarty Tribunal report in 2011, Enda Kenny said he had referred it to the Revenue and the gardaí.
This week’s raids are understood to relate to Mr Lowry’s personal tax affairs rather than to his refrigeration business, which was not visited by the officials.
The gardaí said none of their divisions were involved in the searches.
Mr Lowry has a number of interests and investments outside of his TD’s salary. Last year, he set up an unlimited company to manage his bloodstock affairs after a breeding success.
In December’s sales, he made €813,000 in one week selling a mare he acquired at the height of his previous tax difficulties and her filly. He also has property investments in Tipperary and rents out 35 acres.
The Independent TD co-owns two sites in England which were probed by the Moriarty Tribunal.
Earlier this year, a tape emerged of a conversation between Mr Lowry and the land agent, Kevin Phelan.
In it, Mr Lowry discussed a payment of €248,000 he made to Mr Phelan in Aug 2002. It had been paid through Garuda Ltd.
In the tape, Mr Lowry said it was to cover work Mr Phelan did to acquire and prepare a development land in Wigan. It was in addition to a £65,000 fee he paid Mr Phelan in Mar 2002 for the same Wigan project.
In the phonecall, Mr Lowry said the €248,000 had not been accounted for.
However, in a statement after the publication of the tape, Mr Lowry said it was compliant.
“That transaction was properly recorded and accounted for in the records and accounts of Garuda Ltd. The payment referred to is fully tax-compliant.”
Half of the Wigan property was transferred out his British company, Vineacre Ltd, and into Mr Lowry’s personal name, in 2003.
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