REVENUE CATCHES ALMOST 200 PEOPLE WHO FAILED TO DISCLOSE OFFSHORE ASSETS - Almost 200 Irish residents who failed to avail of a window to disclose offshore assets have since been caught by Revenue.

The 190 taxpayers are just the first group in an ongoing investigation by tax authorities of money, property and other assets that had been hidden from Irish Revenue. The hunt for offshore tax evaders was announced last November, six months after a deadline for people to admit they had undeclared income offshore passed, says the Irish Times. That voluntary disclosure window, announced by then minister for finance Michael Noonan in the 2017 budget, had seen close to 3,000 people come forward with details of assets held abroad on which tax should have been paid. These included foreign earnings and income from rental of property abroad, including holiday homes. It also involved money held in foreign bank accounts and even pensions, including state pensions, being paid to Irish residents who may have worked abroad for some of their careers. "Revenue has concluded approximately 190 interventions into cases involving previously undisclosed offshore assets, yielding in the region of €1.2 million in tax, interest and penalties," a spokeswoman said.

MANAGEMENT BUY-OUTS IN DANGER, WARNS DEPARTMENT - Tax changes made in 2017 to tackle avoidance are stopping management buy-outs from going ahead, the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) has warned.

The department asked for a change to tax legislation to circumvent the problem in its pre-Budget submission, but the change was not made by Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe in Budget 2019. "This provision was introduced to deal with a Revenue-identified avoidance opportunity. There are concerns that this is impacting on genuine and legitimate commercial transactions," DBEI said in its submission, released to the Irish Independent under a Freedom of Information request. "The provision introduces uncertainty around the tax treatment of transactions to such a degree that these transactions (typically management buy-outs and other succession arrangements) may not now proceed". Management buy-outs (MBOs) are a common form of corporate transaction where a company's management buys out the company's owners. They are often used by small businesses where owners want to retire and pass the business on. DBEI suggested an amendment could be made to the Taxes Consolidation Act, whereby a test could be introduced to see if the transaction was bona fide.

DANSKE BANK WHISTLEBLOWER TALKING TO US ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES - The former Danske Bank manager who blew the whistle on a €200 billion money-laundering scandal centred on the bank's tiny Estonian branch has talked to a multitude of US law-enforcement agencies, raising the stakes for Denmark’s biggest lender as it faces investigations around the world. 

Howard Wilkinson - who alleged to Danske bosses that branch customers included shell companies that were fronts for Russian intelligence and relatives of Vladimir Putin, the Russian president - was cleared by the bank to talk to various agencies including the Department of Justice, Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, according to people familiar with the situation. Mr Wilkinson, a British citizen who will testify to both the Danish and EU parliaments this week, previously signed a non-disclosure agreement with the bank that Danske must waive before he gives evidence, says the Financial Times. The bank gave permission to Mr Wilkinson’s lawyer each time to meet US authorities. The DoJ has launched an investigation into the biggest money-laundering scheme ever uncovered, with what amounted to more than Estonia’s annual GDP passing through the branch every year from Russia and other former Soviet states. The agency is also scrutinising the roles played by Deutsche Bank, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase in clearing cross-border payments for the branch.


THOUSANDS OF UK WORKERS DENIED TOILET ACCESS, SAYS UNITE - Thousands of people do not have access to basic toilet facilities in their workplace in the UK, according to a major union. 

Unite said it had uncovered evidence of staff at branches of big high-street banks being required to urinate in buckets, and construction sites failing to provide any female toilets. Bus drivers had been denied toilet breaks for up to five hours, and workers in call centres for big financial institutions were told to log in and out to take a toilet break, writes today's Guardian. In total, Unite said tens of thousands of workers across the UK suffer a lack of "toilet dignity", where they are either not provided with proper toilets or have restrictions placed upon them in using facilities. The union said it was demanding that employers take action to ensure that workers had decent toilets without unnecessary or officious restrictions. It said that the worst practices it had found were in bus and lorry driving, construction, warehousing, agriculture and the banking and finance sector. Women in particular were likely to suffer, said Unite, which launched a "period dignity" campaign in September to highlight issues in workplaces.