Irish Revenue nets $1 billion in offshore account probe

The Irish Revenue collected 1 billion euros (US$1.4 billion) in an investigation of offshore bank accounts over the past decade. The figure is likely to increase as officials are now looking into an additional 162 bank accounts in the Isle of Man, the Irish Independent has reported.

The information relating to accounts held by Irish customers of National Irish Bank, now a part of Danske Bank, was made available in March following a Supreme Court order in December last year, according to the Revenue’s 2013 annual report.

Any undeclared interest and income earnings or other capital gains will be subject to penalties and interest.

The investigation into undeclared offshore accounts, launched by the Revenue in 2004, which lasted a decade after the revenue authority was given new powers to request information on fund transfers to offshore financial centers.

So far, the tax authority has handled 15,225 cases as part of the ongoing operation. Last year about 15 million euros (US$21 million) was collected in taxes, charges and interest.

An initial voluntary disclosure program in 2004 yielded 800 million euros (US$1,100) from 14,000 account holders.

Since 2006, the revenue authority used High Court orders to obtain information from financial institutions.

The banks were forced to hand over to the tax authority details of all customer funds transfers to and from certain jurisdictions, including the Isle of Man, Jersey, Guernsey and Northern Ireland, and later Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

The most recent case involving Danske Bank accounts in the Isle of Man provided new information after the Supreme Court overturned a decision by the High Court, which had refused to grant the disclosure order.

The Revenue requests customer details such as name and address of the account holder, the date the account was opened, opening balance, maximum balance of the account over the life of the account and, if applicable, the date of closure of the account.