The revelations in the leaked ‘Paradise Papers’ that AIB’s offshore arm continued to facilitate tax avoidance after it was bailed out by the public highlight the extent of the moral bankruptcy at the heart of the Irish banking system, Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy TD has said.

Deputy Murphy said:

“It is galling in the extreme to wake up to media reports today that AIB’s offshore operations continued to target wealthy Irish customers who wanted to avoid paying tax, even after the bank had been bailed out by the Irish public to the tune of €7 billion.

“AIB went so far as to refuse a request to access data on its offshore customers on foot of a court order obtained by the Revenue Commissioners in 2015. Why would Revenue look for this information in the first place if it didn’t think it was deliverable?  The bank needs to come clean and tell us whether it did in fact subsequently accede to the Revenue’s request.

“Of course, these weren’t ‘average customers’ with mortgages or loans but ‘high net worth’ customers. This contrasts with AIB’s shabby treatment of customers affected by the tracker mortgage scandal. The same bank has been incredibly slow off the mark in providing redress to thousands of fixed-rate mortgage customers unfairly excluded from is tracker mortgage redress scheme.

Deputy Murphy noted that tax avoidance by wealthy individuals denies the State much-needed revenue that would fund better public services and improved infrastructure.

She added:

“The revelations in the Paradise Papers show the sheer extent of the moral bankruptcy at the heart of a banking system that actively courts the kind of aggressive tax planning that, while legal, is nevertheless deeply immoral.

“These leaked files make it clear once again that the problematic culture of our banks has not been properly addressed since the financial crisis. We have yet to see the sort of radical cultural change that is needed. Bank of Ireland’s recently announced review of its culture, while at least it shows some ownership of the problem, is clearly far too limited. Unfortunately, it is hard to have confidence that any institution in the State would be able to conduct a review that would be credible and would lead to changed behaviour.”

ENDS

6 November 2017