PAC to quiz Revenue on Ansbacher

The Office of the Revenue Commissioner will be brought before the Public Accounts Committee within weeks to discuss whether it was allowed to properly examine the Ansbacher scandal.

However, the Dáil’s spending watchdog will be blocked from asking any questions about specific politicians during the meeting, with inquiries confined to the structures Revenue was asked to work within.

Members of the PAC agreed to the move during a two-hour private meeting yesterday in a response to recent revelations over the major financial scandal.

Despite seemingly being consigned to political history, Ansbacher returned with venom last week after a whistle-blower claimed to have information showing senior politicians dodged tax by routing funds through the Cayman Islands.

In a file sent to the PAC under the Protected Disclosures Act, Department of Jobs employee Gerry Ryan has claimed he uncovered evidence in 2003 and 2004 that leading figures were the beneficial owners of accounts linked to the Ansbacher Cayman Ltd bank.

However, despite producing this information, it isalleged the concerns were not dealt with by ministers in a series of recent governments or state agencies.

After the fresh concerns emerged last week, the PAC was given internal Leinster House legal advice stating it could not examine the complaint as it did not fall under the group or the Comptroller and Auditor General’s remit.

However, Mr Ryan has received separate legal advice contradicting this position, on the grounds that as the information may not have been adequately examined in the past, the PAC was entitled to open an investigation.

The Dáil’s spending watchdog is now seeking further advice on whether it can interview the whistle-blower on the issue.

It also agreed to organise a meeting with Revenue over whether the state body was properly resourced to examine the initial scandal.

It is understood that PAC members cannot probe concerns over specific politicians. However, one member told the Irish Examiner there was nothing stopping the state body from volunteering further information.

Among the matters the PAC will be blocked from asking Revenue about will be Mr Ryan’s claims that Jobs Minister Richard Bruton, among others, ignored his concerns and delayed submitting them to the Garda bureau of fraud investigation for two years.

A spokesperson for Mr Bruton said the minister had now submitted Mr Ryan’s file, which he believes was covered by previous documents between 2004 and 2010, adding he will meet with the whistle-blower next week.

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