Businessman had €800,000 in off shore accounts, court hears

The owner of an office supply business in Tralee, Co Kerry, and a "generous" charity worker, was found to have almost €800,000 in Swiss and other foreign bank accounts uncovered on foot of a revenue investigation and a European tip-off.

John Cashell, aged 59, of Stacks Mountain, Kilflynn, Co Kerry, who had been a director of Radley Cashell Business Systems Ltd at Rock St, Tralee, pleaded guilty yesterday in relation to three counts of incorrect income tax returns, in 2001, 2002 and 2003, with regard to undeclared interest on these accounts.

The matter centred on the Isle of Man and subsequently in Switzerland and the banks included the former Close Bank, AIB, and Irish Permanent.

In May 2003, €529,000 had been transferred from Close Bank in the Isle of Man to a Swiss bank, when Close Bank closed, John Flynn of the Revenue outlined to the court.

Mr Flynn had conducted investigations in the Isle of Man, as well as at Cashell’s home under warrant in 2011.

Tralee Circuit Criminal Court yesterday heard Cashell had already been found to have six domestic “bogus non-resident accounts” in the AIB in October of 2002 following a previous an investigation by Revenue commissioners.

He had not availed of the scheme offered in 2001 in relation to these kind of accounts and had paid €250,000 in settlement.

Cashell’s returns made no reference to the €798,000 of monies in foreign banks in his returns of income.

In 2010 as part of mutual legal assistance from the French and Spanish authorities, Revenue became aware of a Swiss bank account held by Cashell and a search under warrant by Mr Flynn unearthed the Isle of Man accounts.

When questioned about these, Cashell essentially gave “untrue and evasive answers,” Mr Flynn told Tom Rice, prosecuting.

He has paid over €100,000 — the amount due in tax, interest and penalties, on the three accounts, the court was told with some €72,000 of this being paid over yesterday by cheque.

However, a further tax bill in relation to years 1997 to 2002 of €246,000 is now with the appeals commissioners, the court was also told.

“Revenue were faced with someone who seemed to be involved in systematic tax evasion,” Mr Flynn told Michael Bowman, defending.

Mr Bowman put it to Mr Flynn that his client only owned 45% of the offshore monies and the rest was owned by his late father-in-law, John Hickey, who had been a builder in the UK.

However, Mr Flynn said Revenue refuted this.

Cashel, a father-of-five, had built up his business from a small-scale office supply business in 1985 to one which employed 12 people at its peak.

He was no longer involved and the company had been dissolved in 2013. He had suffered loss of reputation and status.

Testimonials from the business community in Tralee spoke of his charitable works for Goal, for Lesotho, and the St Vincent de Paul.

Paul Hanrahan who is involved with the African Lesotho charity raising funds for subsistence farmers, said Cashell was “the most generous man” he ever knew.

Retired businessman and Lions Club member Chris Nugent said Cashel had done excellent work for his community.

Speaking of the effect on Cashell, Mr Nugent said: “The Revenue will take its toll on anybody. It will depend on your status in society and how you handle it.”

There were written testimonials from members of Tralee Chamber of Commerce.

Judge Carroll Moran said he would adjourn sentencing to October to allow the latest cheque of €72,000 (part of the €100,000 penalty on the three counts) to clear.

The judge said he would wish to see a current set of accounts as either a fine or a prison sentence were options.

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