SF raises question about using former HSBC CEO as NAMA advisor

The Government has been asked to state whether it knew a NAMA advisor's former company was implicated in a global tax evasion scheme.

SF raises question about using former HSBC CEO as NAMA advisor

The Government has been asked to state whether it knew a NAMA advisor's former company was implicated in a global tax evasion scheme.

Michael Geoghegan was appointed as a Government advisor on NAMA after serving as chief executive of the HSBC group for four years.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams asked whether Finance Minister Michael Noonan had asked Mr Geoghegan about HSBC prior to his appointment to NAMA.

It emerged yesterday that Irish account holders have more than €3bn stored in HSBC bank accounts in Switzerland, but Revenue has collected only €4.5m in unpaid taxes.

The Sinn Féin President says an urgent inquiry is needed.

He asked the Taoiseach in the Dáil: "Do you think the return of €4.55m, when there are €3.1bn linked to 350 clients, to be a reasonable tax settlement?

"Do you agree that this behaviour is a matter for the Public Accounts Committee to investigate?"

He explained: "A major global conspiracy assisting a wealthy elite, including individuals from this State, to conceal wealth and avoid tax, was publicised at the weekend. The Swiss branch of HSBC advised clients on how to keep money hidden from State authorities and offered deals to help tax dodgers stay ahead of the law.

"Irish money held in this bank, on which due tax was not paid, is ultimately money taken from ordinary citizens here."

Mr Adams outlined how the Swiss HSBC accounts had €3.1bn linked to 350 clients associated with Ireland, 20 of whom have since made settlements with the Revenue Commissioners worth just over €4.5m.

He said: "Unlike the arrests of anti-Water Charge activists, there were no arrests, no early morning raids. In the US, France, Belgium and Argentina this bank now faces criminal investigations. But not here, the best small country in the world in which to avoid tax if you’re wealthy.

“I believe this scandal is a matter for the Public Accounts Committee to investigate.”

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