Independent TD Michael Lowry has been fined €15,000 and his company Garuda has been fined €10,000 after being found guilty of a tax offence and failing to keep proper books of account.

The charges relate to a payment of around €372,000 from a Finnish company Norpe OY. 

Judge Martin Nolan said he did not consider a custodial sentence was appropriate in this case. He said the court was dealing with a very narrow series of events. 

He said everyone was aware Mr Lowry was involved in certain controversies, but he was dealing with him in relation to this transaction and the tax ramifications of that.

The court heard the money was due to Garuda in 2002 as a commission payment from Norpe but was paid to a third party in the Isle of Man, Kevin Phelan, at Mr Lowry's direction.

The State claimed this payment was kept off the books in 2002, and that Mr Lowry and his company then tried to pretend it was not made until 2006.

The jury found that Garuda had knowingly delivered an incorrect corporation tax return for the year ending 2006 and that Mr Lowry had consented to or connived in this.

It also found the company failed to keep proper books of account for 2002 - 2007, by failing to correctly record or explain the transaction and that this offence was caused to be committed by the wilful acts of Mr Lowry.

Their verdicts were unanimous.

The jury could not agree on two other charges that Garuda had delivered incorrect accounts and information in relation to corporation tax for the year ending 2002 and that Mr Lowry had consented to or connived in these offences.

The court heard the DPP will not be pursuing those counts.

Mr Lowry was found not guilty of delivering an incorrect income tax return for the year 2002 by direction of the judge earlier in the trial. Judge Nolan said he considered that a much more serious offence.

He said Mr Lowry had been a successful businessman and a good employer. The company had gone through hard times and Mr Lowry had put his hand in his own pocket to pay previous revenue debts.

He said he had come to the conclusion that Mr Lowry was a conscientious taxpayer and whatever the motivation was for what he had done, it was not to evade tax. He said he had no convictions and was a very good public representative.

He fined Mr Lowry €15,000 and fined Garuda €10,000. He also reduced the amount of time that Mr Lowry is to be automatically disqualified as a company director from five years to three years.

"I came into this building a free man and I leave a free man" - Lowry

Speaking outside court after his conviction and fine, Mr Lowry said he had entered the criminal courts building as a free man and he was leaving as a free man.

He said: "I'm thrilled for my family, my relatives, for my staff and for the people of Tipperary who have been so loyal and steadfast in their support for me during 22 years of absolute turmoil.

"So for me today is the beginning of the end. It has been a fantastic result.

"To hear the judge say I'm a conscientious tax payer, a good public representative, a good employer and that I saved my company by re-mortgaging house when it was in difficulty, what more could I ask for?"

Mr Lowry said it had been a very traumatic time for him, adding that he had been "pilloried, vilified, at times it was humiliating but this today is the culmination of 22 years of investigations, of enquiries".

"I've had six different investigations and inquiries, it has been non-stop full stop for 22 years," he said.

He added: "Those writing about me and speculating about me, you have to acknowledge that today is for me personally ... a huge day in my life. No one [can] understand unless you're in the position if you've been harassed, chased and hounded by various institutions of the State.

"It is only when you're in that position, but fortunately I had the strength, courage and conviction. I knew in my heart and my head that I did not do the kind of wrongs portrayed in such a way."

Mr Lowry said he proved that a charge that his company owed 1m was a false allegation.

He said his case was a "technical problem" and should never have been brought to the circuit court. He said it should have been brought to local district court level.

"What business had they bringing me here? None, none and that has been proven," he stated.

When reporters put to him that he had been convicted, he said: "What you need to remember is if you read the charges, the first charge said Michael Lowry should be convicted for owing revenue a million. That was struck out. They could not sustain it. That was not factual.

It was put to him again that he had been convicted on some of the charges and he replied: "The best thing you could do is read the judge's summation and if you're able to finish reading that you will have your answer."

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