News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Monday 15th June 2015

Former Anglo workers tried to destroy records, court hears

  

Three accused of conspiring to hide account with Seán FitzPatrick link from Revenue.

Former Anglo Irish Bank official Aoife Maguire (60) of Rothe Abbey, South Circular Road, Kilmainham, Dublin, has pleaded not guilty to deceiving the Revenue between 2003 and 2004.

An account held in Anglo Irish Bank was not furnished to the Revenue Commissioners because it was connected with the bank’s former chairman Seán FitzPatrick, the jury in the trial of three former Anglo officials has been told.

In his opening statement, Dominic McGinn SC, for the prosecution, said an account held by John Peter O’Toole was omitted from a list of non-resident accounts to be given to Revenue in March 2003.

Mr McGinn said that it was deliberately omitted because it was connected with Mr FitzPatrick, who was Mr O’Toole’s brother-in-law.

He told the jury of six men and six women that in 2004, there were also attempts to delete information from the bank’s database about six other accounts, the motivation for which was a connection between the accounts and Mr FitzPatrick.

Aoife Maguire (60) of Rothe Abbey, South Circular Road, Kilmainham, Dublin, Bernard Daly (65) of Collins Avenue West, Whitehall, Dublin and Tiarnan O’Mahoney (54) of Glen Pines, Enniskerry, Co Wicklow are facing charges for alleged offences that occurred in 2003 and 2004.

They have pleaded not guilty.

All three are accused of conspiring to destroy, mutilate or falsify documents relating to accounts of Mr O’Toole held at Anglo Irish Bank.

Mr Daly and Mr O’Mahoney are accused of furnishing a list of bank accounts in connection with tax that did not include Mr O’Toole’s.

Ms Maguire and Mr O’Mahoney are accused of conspiring to destroy the records of six accounts and defraud revenue.

The accounts were listed in court as Lock Ltd/Suzie Ltd, Carnahalla Ltd/Suzie Ltd, Lock Ltd, Carnhalla Ltd, Triumvirate Properties Ltd and Seán FitzPatrick Trust/Crohan O’Shea Trust.

Mr McGinn told the jury there would be significant parts of the trial that wouldn’t be exciting.

He said that the courts were usually full of offences such as those seen on television in Crimecall or in Love/Hate, but this trial would be long and would involve tax and fraud.

“There are no punch ups or car chases,” he said.

He told the jury that in the early 1990s and late 2000s, Revenue began looking at non-resident bank accounts.

He said that Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT) did not apply to the accounts of people who did not live in the State, but that some non-resident accounts were bogus and tax should have been paid on them.

Revenue was said to have contacted all banks to ask them about non-resident accounts and Anglo told them they had no such accounts.

However, when a tax amnesty followed, some people came forward who had such accounts in Anglo. Revenue then decided to investigate the bank.

High Court order

Revenue got a High Court order in March 2003 requiring Anglo to provide a list of non-resident accounts.

It also said it would come into the bank and audit it. It sought three lists of non-resident accounts of more than €100,000 in 1990, 1995 and 1999.

To comply with that, a team was sent up in the bank led by Mr Daly. Mr O’Mahoney had a supervisory role in the team, and the prosecution alleged that Ms Maguire was appointed to the team by Mr O’Mahoney to report directly to him and influence team members.

In November 2003, lists were provided and Mr O’Toole’s name was left out of the list for March 1995.

Mr McGinn said that the omission was a deliberate act because the account was connected to Mr FitzPatrick. He said that Mr O’Toole was Mr Fitzpatrick’s brother-in-law and that Mr FitzPatrick had some involvement with transactions on the account.

He said Mr Daly and Mr O’Mahoney both had separate conversations with separate team members who refused to omit Mr O’Toole’s name from the list, and that those members were removed from the team.

In 2004, there were attempts to delete the information from the bank’s database, counsel said.

Mr McGinn said that staff in Anglo’s IT department were instructed to delete references to Mr O’Toole’s accounts and to six other accounts.

Mr McGinn alleged that the IT department was uncomfortable regarding the deletions and so instead archived the information.

He said that the attempt to delete those accounts was motivated by a connection between the accounts and Mr FitzPatrick.

“To a greater or lesser extent, Seán FitzPatrick has involvement in this case.”

Counsel told the jury the six accounts were set up to trade offshore or manage property and were held in the Isle of Man or Jersey, but they were Anglo accounts, and that there was a concerted effort made to conceal them for the purpose of not paying tax.

Mr McGinn said that all three accused were involved in the attempt to delete Mr O’Toole’s accounts from the bank system and Mr O’Toole’s name was removed from the tax list by Mr Daly and Mr O’Mahoney.

Mr O’Mahoney and Ms Maguire were involved in an agreement to delete the other six accounts and hide references to them in the bank system, Mr McGinn said.

He told the jury there would be no direct evidence, or “smoking gun”, in the case. He also said the prosecution did not have to prove that Revenue was actually defrauded.

Poets and fans gathered for WB Yeats celebrations in Sligo

  

‘Absolutely Fabulous’ actor Joanna Lumley (above right) declares Sligo has stolen her heart.

Irish poet and playwright William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939) who received the Nobel prize for literature in 1923.

During one of the headline events of his birthday celebration in Sligo, WB Yeats’ granddaughter Caitriona briefly shared a stage with Mary Plunkett grandniece of 1916 leader, Joseph Mary.

Caitriona Yeats, a harpist, was presented with a book of her grandfather’s poems hand-printed by Plunkett, whose work is inspired by the poet’s sisters Susan and Elizabeth Yeats, of Cuala Press fame.

Earlier in the day, Ireland’s ambassador to Britain Dan Mulhall had noted that Yeats “engaged on a daily basis with the public life of Ireland”.

The encounter between descendants of the revolutionary and the poet underlined that role in the life of the country.

Yeats and Plunkett were applauded by six poet laureates , all female, from Ireland,England, Scotland, Wales, London and Northern Ireland, who were joined by President Michael D Higgins at Saturday night’s National Poets’ event. The laureates read from Yeats’ and their own work.

President Higgins, despite being enthusiastically kissed on his arrival by the National Poet of Scotland Liz Lochead, who was charmed with the idea of a poet as President, chose to read Auden’s In Memory Of WB Yeats, but none of his own work.

Politicians and celebrity guests spent the weekend in Sligo soaking up the atmosphere.

Minister for Arts Heather Humphreys was at Lissadell House, while Minister for Communications Alex White was there for the cutting of a giant birthday cake on O’Connell Street.

It was a weekend when everyone reached for connections with the man, who President Higgins described as our national poet.

London laureate Aisling Fahey , wasn’t sure if it was her grandfather or great grandfather who “used to drive Yeats in a horse and cart to Thoor Ballylee” when he went west.

One of the unlikely stars of the weekend was Absolutely Fabulous star Joanna Lumley who declared that Sligo had stolen her heart.

“I love it, I completely love it,” said actor Joanna.

Her popularity meant that the award winning Lake Isle of Innisfree garden was in danger of being trampled into the ground when she cut the ribbon there.

Lumley, who started the day with a visit to Yeats’ grave in Drumcliffe, had been invited by Senator Susan O’Keeffe, chair of Yeats 2015, to open the garden at the Model arts centre because of her campaign for a London Garden Bridge.

“It is enchanting – Yeats’ dream, every dream he ever had,” she said.

If the actor was taken aback by “all the loveliness I have met” in Sligo, out the road in Lissadell House, SenatorDavid Norris was giving her a run for her money in the popularity stakes where he too spent the day posing with fans for selfies.

As Sligo Drama Circle organised a marathon reading of all 378 Yeats poems, celebrities spent the weekend reciting personal favourites.

The apparently age-defying 69-year-old Lumley who urged people to “take off your hats and dance in the street” recited When You Are Old.

In Lissadell, Senator Norris gave a majestic rendering of Sailing to Byzantium while Anne Doyle read The Cat and the Moon tearfully recounting that her pet cat Pooka had passed on last week.

RTE’s Bryan Dobson chose Easter 1916 as his party piece, while his colleague Mary Wilson treated the audience to her favourite Crazy Jane talks with the Bishop.

But in Hargadon’s pub Caitriona Yeats probably won the heart of many of those force fed Yeats as school children when she candidly admitted: “We didn’t read much of my grandfather’s work growing up”.

She read Come Gather Round Me, Parnellites because her mother Grainne used to sing it and she liked the sentiment of “Come fill up all those glasses and pass the bottle round”.

Ireland to stop making 1 & 2 cent coins

  

National Payments Plan recommends nationwide roll out for ‘rounding’ system.

Ireland has been minting coppers at three times the rate of the EU average but there is a consistent shortage of them across the country.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan will recommend to Cabinet on Tuesday the withdrawal of one and two cent coins following the success of a pilot project in Wexford.

Mr. Noonan has received a report from the Central Bank’s National Payments Plan recommending the roll out nationally of the rounding project so as to reduce the need for one and two cent coins.

The recommendation comes following the overwhelming success of a nine-week project in Wexford in 2013 where transactions were rounded up or down to the nearest five cent.

According to Wexford Chamber of Commerce CEO, Madeleine Quirke the project which ran from September 17th until November 17th 2013 was a tremendous success.

“Some 250 businesses in Wexford participated in the project – everyone from supermarkets to pubs to fast food outlets to garages – anyone handling large amounts of cash.

“Some 85 per cent of consumers and 100 per cent of business owners surveyed afterwards were in favour of the project – in fact we have had no complaints or negative comments at all.”

Ms Quirke said the success of the project stemmed from the fact that business people in Wexford adhered to the strict guideline that there should be no increase in prices.

“It was stipulated clearly by the Central Bank when Wexford was chosen that there would be no increase in prices and businesses here adhered to that faithfully,” she explained.

“Prices remained the same – items were still carrying the same prices tags and it was only the total bill at the end of the transaction that was rounded up or down to the nearest five cent.”

“Consumers were very happy to support the project once it wasn’t hitting them in their pocket while it cut down on the time that business people had to spend dealing with coin.”

Unveiling the pilot project back in 2013, Ronnie O’Toole of the National Payments Plan explained that the pilot trial followed the Central Bank surveying customers about the coins.

“People said they couldn’t use them any more to buy anything or use them in machine so what people do is that they take them out of their wallet or purse and put them in a jam-jar.

“As a result, we have had to replace those coins going out of circulation – we have issued over €30 million worth of one and two cent coins since the euro was introduced in 2001.

“In fact our issuing of replacement one cent and two cent coins accounts for 85 per cent of all coin production for the Central Bank at the mint in Sandyford,” said Mr O’Toole in 2013.

However even small change comes at cost with each one cent coin cost 1.7 cent to mint and each two cent coin cost more than two cents to mint, explained Mr O’Toole.

This has resulted in the Central Bank having to spend well in excess of €30 million on the coins in the period between 2001 and 2012.

It’s understood that while the Central Bank has recommended out the national roll out of the rounding project, participation in the scheme will be on a voluntary basis.

This means that one and two cent coin will remain legal tender as is the case in a number of other Eurozone countries which have already adopting a rounding policy.

Earlier this month Fine Gael Senator Catherine Noone said the Central Bank should abolish the coins.

“Ireland has been minting coppers at three times the rate of the EU average and yet there is a consistent shortage of them across the country. This is causing consistent problems for businesses when it comes to change shortages and is a hassle shared by businesses and consumers alike,” she said.

“It seems senseless that we are bending over backwards to produce these coins given the cost of production costs more than their stored value, with a one cent coin costing 1.7 cent to produce and a two cent coin costing about two cents.”

New low cholesterol drug may be available by end of year

  

Evolocumab can be used for high levels of cholesterol when statin drugs are not effective

based on the potential role of the monoclonal agent and its cost effectiveness.

LDL cholesterol causes “furring” of the arteries that supply blood to the heart and the brain, which puts those affected at greater risk of heart attack and stroke.

A novel class of cholesterol-lowering drug could be available to Irish patients by the end of the year, following the approval of the first of the new agents by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

The EMA has recommended to the European Commissionthat it issue a EU-wide marketing authorisation for evolocumab as a treatment to lower high blood levels of cholesterol in cases where the standard treatment with statin drugs is not effective.

The new drug, which will be marketed under the trade name Repatha and is manufactured by Amgen, is also indicated for people who cannot take statins and for those with a rare inherited form of familial high cholesterol in which levels of LDL cholesterol (“bad cholesterol”) are higher than normal from birth.

Unlike statins, which are taken orally, the new class of monoclonal antibodies are injected either monthly or once every two weeks.

Evolocumab, and other drugs in the class, block a protein called PCSK9, the effect of which is to increase the number of LDL- receptors in the liver, thereby enhancing the body’s ability to remove the harmful form of cholesterol from the blood.

LDL cholesterol causes “furring” of the arteries that supply blood to the heart and the brain, which puts those affected at greater risk of heart attack and stroke.

Evolocumab and another agent alirocumab received preliminary approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week even though research data proving their efficacy in reducing cardiovascular disease is not yet complete. This fact led a minority of experts on the FDA panel to vote against approval.

However other experts say that trial results showing a 40 to 65 per cent reduction in LDL levels among participants is highly significant.

Dr Jim Crowley, medical director of CROì, the west of Ireland cardiology foundation, said it is reasonable to use LDL reduction as a surrogate for reducing cardiac events based on current knowledge.

Both Dr Crowley and Dr Angie Brown, medical director of the Irish Heart Foundation, emphasised a need to establish the long -term safety profile of the new class of agents.

“It is very important to see the results of long term outcome trials before these agents are used more widely,” Dr Brown said. She predicted the new agents are likely to complement statins in the prevention of heart disease rather than replace them.

While the exact cost of the drug in Europe is not yet known, US sources have predicted a cost per patient per year of around $10,000.

Once marketing authorisation has been granted, the HSE medicines management programme will take a decision on reimbursement

What does a diabetes-friendly meal look like?

  

Practicing portion control is a crucial part of a diabetes-safe diet, and this tip makes it easy.

Counting carbs is effective and plays a critical role in your diabetes control. So does portion control — and all you need to get started is an empty plate.

Take an ordinary dinner plate and draw an imaginary line down the center. Now, focus on filling half the plate with nonstarchy vegetables. Then divide the remaining half into two sections, each of which you will fill with starchy foods and a protein source like meat or fish. (But don’t pile the food sky-high on the plate!) Following this practice is a simple and effective method to lose weight and help manage type 2 diabetes.

Fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables:

  • Spinach
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Greens
  • Cabbage
  • Bok choy
  • Onion
  • Cucumber
  • Beets
  • Okra
  • Mushrooms
  • Peppers
  • Turnips

In one small section (1/4 of the total plate) put starchy foods:

  • Whole-grain bread
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Dal
  • Tortillas
  • Cooked beans or peas, such as pinto beans or black-eyed peas
  • Potatoes
  • Green peas
  • Corn
  • Lima beans
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Winter squash
  • Low-fat crackers, snack chips, pretzels, or fat-free popcorn

In the other small section (1/4 plate) place your protein choice:

  • Chicken or turkey without the skin
  • Fish such as tuna, salmon, cod, or catfish
  • Other seafood such as shrimp, clams, oysters, crab, or mussels
  • Lean cuts of beef and pork such as sirloin or pork loin
  • Tofu
  • Eggs
  • Low-fat cheese

At breakfast, your plate will look different, but the idea is the same. Whether you use a plate or bowl for breakfast, keep your portions small. Use half the plate for starchy foods and fill the smaller sections with fruit (1/4) and your protein choice in the other (1/4).

Pope backs climate changes and denounces world leaders

   

Pope Francis attends a meeting with the Roman Diocesans in St. Peter’s Square on June 14, 2015 in Vatican City, Vatican.

Pope Francis has endorsed the science behind global warning and denounced the world’s political leaders for putting national self-interests ahead of action.

The 192-page leaked draft of a papal encyclical, published Monday by the Italian magazine L’Espresso, is an attempt to influence the debate before United Nations climate talks scheduled for the end of the year in Paris. Father Federico Lombardi, the pope’s spokesman, said the text was not the final one, which will be officially released midday local time Thursday by the Vatican.

The encyclical, entitled “Laudato si (Praised Be) on the care of our common home,” is a call to action in the form of a letter to the church’s bishops. With fossil-fuel emissions and temperatures at record levels, the spiritual leader of 1.2 billion Catholics is adding his voice to calls to rein in greenhouse gases.

“International negotiations cannot progress in a significant way because of the positions of the countries which privilege their own national interests rather than the global common good,” the pope wrote. “Those who will suffer the consequences which we are trying to hide will remember this lack of conscience and responsibility.”

Francis squarely put the blame on humans, writing that many scientific studies show “the greater part of global warming in the last decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxide and others) emitted above all due to human activity.”

  Some ‘Honesty and Courage’ needed.

Reducing emissions, he wrote, demands “honesty, courage and responsibility, above all by the most powerful and most polluting countries.”

For months, the pontiff and his advisers have met dozens of scientists and economists to guide the church’s views on the topic.

The pope’s intervention already is rattling climate skeptics in the U.S. and giving environmentalists hope that the weight of his opinion could energize the agonizingly slow UN discussions.

“Francis has become the moral leader of our age, and he can do what scientists and national leaders cannot do,” Veerabhadran Ramanathan, professor of climate and atmospheric sciences at the University of California in San Diego, said in a phone interview.

“He can ask people, and not just Catholics, to change their behavior,” said Ramanathan, a senior member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences that advises Francis.

Renewables and Investments.

A shift in the energy industry, which produces the majority of greenhouse gases, is already is under way. Investment in renewable energy ballooned to $310 billion last year from $60 billion a decade ago, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The International Energy Agency says cleaner forms of energy willdominate power generation by 2030.

To help drive his message home, Francis has requested that bishops around the globe “accompany the publication with appropriate explanations and comments,” the Vatican said in a statement last week.

Francis himself will press his views on a visit to the U.S. in September. He will meet President Barack Obama and address Congress — the first pope to do so — and the UN General Assembly.

Rumblings about the encyclical already have drawn fire from critics in the U.S. — where the Republican chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, James Inhofe, wrote a book on climate change titled “The Greatest Hoax.” Francis should “leave science to the scientists,” Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum said this month.

St. Francis

“There are a significant number of devout Catholics who are Republicans, and those people will have to think very hard about his message,” said Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute in Washington, who took part in a seminar on climate with Francis and several cardinals in May.

The title of the encyclical recalls the opening phrase of the “Canticle of the Creatures” by St. Francis of Assisi, who was the patron saint of animals and the environment. The pope chose to become Francis on his election in March 2013.

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