Former taoisigh may face grilling on EU tax

Two former Fianna Fáil taoisigh and a finance minister could be called to give evidence in a European Parliament investigation of how the corporate tax system in Ireland worked for both Apple and U2.

Former taoisigh may face grilling on EU tax

Ireland will be one of 11 countries under the spotlight of the special committee that will officially begin work this evening, delving further into the kind of tax breaks revealed by the Lux Leaks.

A list of countries, companies, documents and people has been drawn up by the Green Party, which has spearheaded the drive to establish the investigation.

However, the committee’s powers were watered down by the big political groups in the parliament — the EPP of which Fine Gael is part, the Socialists to which Labour belongs, and ALDE, the liberal group to which Fianna Fáil is affiliated.

Its report will have no legal basis and it has no powers to compel witnesses to attend or provide documents.

It will be chaired by French EPP MEP Alain Lamassoure, a former French budget minister. France is not one of the prime countries targeted by the committee.

The Greens have tried to set a comprehensive agenda and have published their proposals that include having three former finance ministers, Bertie Ahern, Brian Cowen and Charlie McCreevy give evidence.

Some of the companies they want to investigate have links with Ireland, especially Apple, whose 1991 and 2007 deals with the tax authorities are being investigated by the European Commission at the moment.

Also on the list are two mega bands — U2 and the Rolling Stones. U2 shifted their tax base to the Netherlands some years ago. Other companies with a base in Ireland on their list are Google and Amazon.

Another figure they want to call to give evidence is the current president of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, who was prime minister and finance minister of Luxembourg when hundreds of tax deals were agreed.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the current president of the eurozone ministers, is also on their list as finance minister in the Netherlands.

Also included are George Osborne and Gordon Brown, current and former chancellors of the British exchequer, and finance ministers of Belgium.

The European Commission is expected to get a roasting from the committee as the suggestion is that despite knowing the special deals could be state aid allowing unfair competition between member states, they turned a blind eye.

The investigation is limited to discovering if EU rules were breached and so they will also call a number of former European commissioners, including Mario Monti who was in charge of competition, who took over as Italian prime minister during the crisis and a range of commission officials.

They also wish to hear from a slew of academics and experts, including Richard Murphy of Tax Justice Network, the British economist who has been an independent voice on many of the irregularities in accounting and banking practices.

The investigation wants to examine documents, including minutes of Commission meetings when the issue of corporate taxation and tax havens was discussed.

They also also want the European Commission to produce the actual tax rate paid by the 50 biggest companies in every member state.

More in this section

Price info
IE_180_logo
Price info

Subscribe to unlock unlimited digital access.
Cancel anytime.

Terms and conditions apply

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.