Question No. 215 answered with Question No. 207.

Tax Code

Questions (216)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

216. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Finance if he has had any discussions with Prime Minister Cameron recently in relation to Ireland's tax affairs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29127/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I can confirm to the Deputy that I have not met with Prime Minister Cameron to discuss Ireland’s tax affairs.

European Investment Bank Loans

Questions (217)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

217. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance if it is his objective, through coordination with the European Investment Bank and Allied Irish Banks plc, to ensure that moneys granted by the former are loaned to enterprises which are best placed to both generate sustainable employment and increase domestic renewable energy capacity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24134/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The EIB is currently revising its lending criteria. The draft lending criteria were published on its website on 24 June 2013 having being approved by the Bank’s Management Committee. They will be submitted for discussion and approval to the Bank’s Board of Directors on 23 July 2013. The new EIB Energy Lending criteria are fully aligned with EU policy priorities to deliver economic growth, energy security and sustainable development. The EIB is fully committed to playing its part in bringing Europe out of the crisis by working with national authorities, public investors and private business to finance effective growth and jobs investment projects while delivering on sustainability and meeting strategic objectives for energy security. Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy and Networks are key areas for EIB investment and support the EU climate objectives. Climate action considerations are mainstreamed in all EIB sectorial strategies and integrated into all operational activities. In addition, the Bank’s Corporate Operational Plan (COP) specifies a clear target that 25% of the EIB’s overall lending has to be in support of climate action activities. The EIB funds available from AIB are targeted to support the financing of all investments and expenditures incurred in the context of the development of SMEs and Mid-Caps through eligible projects. They are not specifically targeted at any specific sector and it is important that sectors should not be excluded from using these funds. A key outcome of investment initiatives by SMEs and Mid-Caps is expansion and growth for companies, including additional employment.

Banking Sector Regulation

Questions (218, 219)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

218. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if it is the practice of all Irish banks to make recordings of internal land line phone calls; and if these recordings are kept within the banks or are provided to the Central Bank of Ireland. [31763/13]

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Pearse Doherty

Question:

219. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if it is the practice of Irish banks to keep records of phone calls between banks and if these recordings are provided to the Central Bank or Ireland. [31764/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 218 and 219 together.

I have been advised by the Central Bank that they do not require Banks to record calls. As such the Central Bank does not require any recordings to be made available to it.

Banking Sector Issues

Questions (220)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

220. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if the special liquidator is in possession of all recordings-transcripts of phone calls made at Anglo Irish Bank-Irish Bank Resolution Corporation until its liquidation, as well as minutes of meetings; and, if not, if the Central Bank holds this information or if it has been submitted to the Garda as part of its ongoing investigation. [31765/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

From the date of the nationalisation of Anglo Irish Bank on 16 January 2009, the Minister for Finance directed the bank to co-operate with all regulatory investigations. I am advised by the bank that they are fully co-operating and in that context the Bank has provided originals and/or copies of large data sets under compulsion/court order to the Chartered Accountants Regulatory Body (CARB), Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation (GBFI), Office of Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE), the then Financial Regulator (FR) and the Nyberg Banking Commission. In particular the Bank has informed me that: in 2009, the ODCE seized under Court Search Warrant approximately 3 million electronic documents and in excess of 5,000 original hard copy documents; in 2009, the FR compelled the production of approximately 45,000 hard copy documents and approximately 9 million electronic documents; the electronic material remains in the possession of the Bank as the FR investigation was deferred in 2009; in 2010, the GBFI under Court Order received significant quantities of electronic and hard copy documents and recordings requested in respect of 18 employees of the Bank whose lines were recorded; in 2010, the Bank was compelled to provide large volumes of electronic and hard copy material to the Nyberg Banking Commission; minutes of meetings as requested were provided to CARB, the ODCE, the GBFI, the Banking Commission and the FR; and in civil litigation copies of various items including certain recordings were provided to parties to such litigation. The originals of the above materials (save where seized) rest with IBRC (in Special Liquidation) and their legal advisors hold copies of certain of the materials.

I am advised that the Central Bank was not aware of the tapes or the content contained therein. The Central Bank is carefully studying the various transcripts emerging. This is something that is viewed very seriously. The Central Bank will be liaising with the Gardaí in this regard and is also examining whether or not any breaches of regulatory requirements may have occurred arising from the information contained in the transcripts.

Banking Sector Investigations

Questions (221)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

221. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if any of the auditors assigned to Anglo Irish Bank-Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, or the Garda investigation team into the bank and potential fraud, have identified any gaps in the minutes of meetings held in the run up to the guarantee and subsequently, or in recordings of phone calls. [31766/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Department does not have responsibility or insight into the investigations undertaken by the Gardaí or any other authorised investigating bodies. I have not been made aware of any gaps in information, including phone recordings, by the current or former auditors of IBRC/Anglo Irish Bank or by the Garda Síochána in relation to these matters. Under statute the Garda Síochána are the body responsible for criminal investigations in the State. Neither, the Department of Finance nor the Government have previously had access to these tapes or related documentation. They went directly from Anglo Irish Bank to An Garda Síochána as part of the material that was supplied to them over four years ago as part of their investigation into matters in Anglo Irish Bank. It would be completely inappropriate for the Department of Finance to act outside of its legal powers and interfere with any investigation that could compromise potential future criminal or civil investigations by the bodies responsible under statute.

Banking Sector Issues

Questions (222)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

222. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance following the revelations made by a national newspaper regarding internal recorded phone calls in Anglo Irish Bank, if his attention has been drawn to the way those tapes came to be in possession of that newspaper. [31767/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I have been advised that the Joint Special Liquidators are investigating the possible source of the leak of the 'Anglo tapes' to the national newspapers. Based on the tapes disclosed up to Monday 1st July 2013 it appears that they form part of data sets that are held by the Bank and their advisors and which have been provided as part of the Regulatory Investigations and civil litigation which the Bank is involved in. These various data sets are held by the Bank itself, the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation, such other regulatory parties to whom the GBFI may have provided those materials and participants and advisors involved in the various civil litigation the Bank is involved in.

I am advised that the Special Liquidators are taking the leaking of this material very seriously and they have written to the Gardaí and the Data Protection Commissioner in that respect. They have also written to all parties whom they know have access to this material. I am also advised that the Special Liquidators intend to appoint an independent party to investigate if the leak came from IBRC or KPMG. These investigations are on-going.

Banking Sector Issues

Questions (223)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

223. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he or anyone in his Department issued a request to Anglo Irish Bank for copies of recorded phone calls between bank employees prior to the release of such tapes by a national newspaper. [31768/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I can confirm that neither I nor any official in the Department issued a request to Anglo for copies of recorded phone calls between bank employees prior to the release of such tapes by a national newspaper. The Department of Finance does not have statutory powers to investigate such matters. It would be completely inappropriate for the Department of Finance to act outside its legal powers and conduct investigations that could compromise potential future criminal or civil investigations by the bodies responsible under statute. I am advised that these tapes formed part of the material that was supplied to An Garda Síochána as part of their investigation into matters at Anglo Irish Bank.

Banking Sector Investigations

Questions (224)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

224. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he is satisfied that his Department has issued all material held by it to the gardaí investigating potential fraud at Anglo Irish Bank. [31769/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Department of Finance has fully complied with all on-going investigations into matters at Anglo Irish Bank by An Garda Síochána and the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement and the Investigation Team in the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation including the supply of all relevant documentation requested.

Banking Sector Investigations

Questions (225)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

225. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if the former Government appointee to Anglo Irish Bank (details supplied) was aware of the existence of recorded phone conversations at Anglo Irish Bank which appeared to reveal a concerted attempt to defraud the Irish State by bank employees; and if so, if he alerted the previous or the current Government to the existence or content of these tapes. [31770/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

Neither the Department of Finance nor the Government were aware of the content of the recorded phone conversations at Anglo Irish Bank referred to in the question. The contents of the tapes were not raised with my Department by the Board of IBRC, I am not aware if Mr Dukes knew of their existence.

Banking Sector Issues

Question No. 227 answered with Question No. 122.

Questions (226)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

226. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he has made inquiries regarding the existence of other recorded phone calls in existence in the other State owned, or proportionately owned State banks, around the time of the guarantee; and if he has sought such information. [31771/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

As the Deputy will be aware banks are required to record phone calls for a variety of reasons. I have not sought access to these recordings as under statute the Garda Síochána are the body responsible for criminal investigations in the State. I understand that the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation have requested access to various documents/materials in the banks, including audio recordings, and that the banks have fully complied with these investigations to date. It would be completely inappropriate for the Department of Finance to act outside of its legal powers and interfere with any investigation that could compromise potential future criminal or civil investigations by the bodies responsible under statute. Any phone calls that are relevant around this period may feature as part of the forthcoming banking inquiry for which the legislation is currently before the House. Under the proposed legislation responsibility is assigned exclusively to the Houses of the Oireachtas to determine the requirement for a formal inquiry, the terms of reference of that inquiry and the procedural and organisational aspects of the inquiry. I expect that the Houses will move quickly to initiate such an inquiry once the legislation is on the statute books.

Question No. 227 answered with Question No. 122.

Banking Sector Investigations

Questions (228)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

228. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance his views that the auditors working for Anglo Irish Bank at the time of the banking guarantee, who gave it a clean audit and have since been found to have a prima facie case to answer even by their own regulatory body, the Chartered Accountants Regulatory Board, have supplied all of their relevant material, from phone call recordings, minuted meetings, emails and so on to the Garda investigation team on Anglo Irish Bank, and/or to his Department; and if this material has been requested. [31774/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

Under statute the Garda Síochána are the body responsible for criminal investigations in the State. The Department does not have responsibility or insight into the investigations undertaken by the Gardaí or the Central Bank. It would be completely inappropriate for the Department of Finance to act outside of its legal powers and interfere with any investigation that could compromise potential future criminal or civil investigations by the bodies responsible under statute.

Tax Avoidance Issues

Questions (229)

Patrick Nulty

Question:

229. Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Finance his views on the recent European Council meeting discussions on tax evasion and avoidence measures in the European Union. [25451/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I welcome the recent European Council discussions on tax fraud, evasion, and aggressive tax planning that took place on the 22nd May. These discussions took place following on from a successful Ecofin meeting which I chaired on the 14th May, where council conclusions were agreed on the European Commission Action Plan to strengthen the fight against tax fraud and evasion, and associated Recommendations on aggressive tax planning and good governance in tax matters. Agreement on these conclusions was brokered by the Irish Presidency following discussions at official level in the Working Party on Tax Questions, and at senior official level in the High Level Working Party, before final agreement was adopted at Ecofin. During the Irish Presidency in the tax area I have prioritised files aimed at tackling tax fraud and evasion and aggressive tax planning and I am pleased to be able to inform the deputy that we have had some significant achievements in this area. In April EU Tax Commissioner Algirdas Semeta and I issued a joint letter to EU Finance Ministers (ECOFIN) urging action against tax fraud, evasion, and aggressive tax planning, and outlined seven key areas where work could be taken forward. I am pleased to inform the deputy that we have made progress in all seven areas. In addition to the above mentioned May Ecofin council conclusions, at the recent June Ecofin we reached agreement on the VAT anti-fraud package. We have also made progress in widening the scope of the EU Savings Directive towards the new global standard of automatic exchange of information, and agreement was also reached on the related Negotiating Mandate for the Commission to align EU savings tax agreements with selected European third countries. Furthermore we reached agreement on the adoption of the Fiscalis 2020 programme and work has begun to revise the Directive on Administrative Cooperation to further widen the scope of automatic exchange of information within the EU. Finally the subgroup of the Code of Conduct on Business Taxation presented a report on intra-EU hybrid entity mismatches which demonstrated the scope for coordinated action in the EU against aggressive tax planning.

Mobile Telephony

Questions (230)

Michael Colreavy

Question:

230. Deputy Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for Finance the amount of funding his Department received arising from the mobile spectrum sale; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26704/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Multi Band Spectrum Auction was conducted by the Communications Regulator, who has statutory responsibility for the management of the Spectrum Asset. The auction took place on 15th November 2012, with the amount to accrue to the Exchequer being approximately €854 million. €450 million, associated with upfront fees, was surrendered to the Exchequer on 14/12/2012. Following the successful conclusion of discussions with the successful applicants on some residual matters a further €24 million is projected to be transferred to the Exchequer this year. The balance, mainly associated with annual usage fees, will be received yearly until 2030.

Tax Code

Questions (231)

Mick Wallace

Question:

231. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Finance the reasons he sought to introduce tax breaks for executives in multinational companies which would have reduced to 23% the income tax rate for eligible executives earning up to €500,000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24439/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

Section 14 of Finance Act 2012 introduced the Special Assignee Relief Programme which is designed to reduce the cost to employers of assigning key individuals in their companies from abroad to take up positions in the Irish based operations of their employer. For example, such individuals could be transferred to head up new divisions of the company and thus lead to additional investments in Ireland. An exemption from income tax on 30% of salary between €75,000 and €500,000 is provided for qualifying employees that are assigned for a minimum of 1 year and the relief is available for a maximum period of 5 years. USC continues to be payable on the full income amount. Social Insurance is also payable where the individual is not liable to it in their normal State of residence. The scheme has been introduced for an initial three-year period ending on 31 December 2014, at which point it will be reviewed. Depending on the outcome of that review, I will decide whether the relief should be retained. It is worth noting that the existence of similar incentives in other European countries such as the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland would indicate that such incentives can be a persuading factor when companies decide where to locate investment projects. In tandem with our corporation tax rate, this relief will help us to compete for Foreign Direct Investment.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (232)

Clare Daly

Question:

232. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Finance if he will compare the cost of the outsourcing of cleaning and security in his Department, as opposed to direct recruitment; and if he will justify this increased cost against the backdrop of the pursuance of savings and efficiencies. [24515/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

In response to the Deputy’s question my Department provides shared accommodation services to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. Security services in respect of buildings occupied by staff of either Department are not outsourced. Cleaning services for buildings occupied by staff of both Departments are outsourced. My Department is in the process of completing a tender process in relation to the provision of cleaning and maintenance services to the Departments. As with the provision of all services achieving best value for money is Department’s main priority. The tender prices on offer compare favourably when compared to the estimated costs such as wages, pension and other costs associated with recruiting sufficient staff to carry out the cleaning requirements in relation to buildings occupied by both Departments.

Banking Sector Issues

Questions (233)

Patrick Nulty

Question:

233. Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Finance his views on whether Bank of Ireland should outsource work currently being carried out by bank employees here to other countries abroad, in view of the significant State investment in the bank and the high unemployment here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31796/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

As the Deputy is aware, I have no statutory function in relation to banking decisions made by individual lending institutions at any particular time. This is ultimately a commercial decision for the management team and board of each bank, having due regard to their customers and the impact on profitability. Notwithstanding the fact that the State is a minority shareholder in Bank of Ireland, I must ensure that the bank is run on a commercial, cost effective and independent basis to ensure its value as an asset to the State, as per the Memorandum on Economic and Financial Policies agreed with the EU Commission, the ECB and the IMF. A Relationship Framework has been specified that defines the nature of the relationship between the Minister for Finance and each bank. These Frameworks were published on 30 March 2012 and can be found athttp://banking.finance.gov.ie/presentations-and-latest-documents/.

Under the terms of the Relationship Framework, this would be considered a commercial matter and therefore not require prior ministerial approval. As I recently responded to Deputy McGrath in PQ 16720/13, Bank of Ireland supplied the following information in response to the Deputy’s question on plans in relation to outsourcing:

"Bank of Ireland reviews on an on-going basis how best to deliver products and services to its customers in an efficient, cost effective and empathetic manner. As a matter of policy Bank of Ireland, as a commercial organisation, does not make public comments on its commercial deliberations unless or until these are considered to be issues which will have a material impact on the Group's operations, financial statements, customers and/or staff."

Tax Code

Questions (234)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

234. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the revenue lost to the Exchequer as a result of tax free lump sums allowed upon retirement; and the way these lump sums are treated for tax purposes. [31806/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The following arrangements currently apply to retirement lump sums paid under pension arrangements approved by the Revenue Commissioners. Lump sum amounts up to €200,000 are paid free of tax. They are also paid free of USC. The portion of a lump sum between €200,001 and €575,000 is taxed on a ring-fenced basis at 20%. This means that no tax credits or other tax reliefs can be set against this portion of the lump sum. No USC is chargeable. Any amount of a lump sum in excess of €575,000 is taxed at the individual’s marginal rate of tax (credits and other tax reliefs are available). In this instance, USC is chargeable on the excess. These amounts are lifetime amounts with prior lump sums aggregating with later lump sums.

As there is no general requirement for data on the number of persons who are receiving payments of retirement lump sums of less than €200,000 to be returned to my Department or to the Revenue Commissioners, I am not in a position to provide definitive figures on the Exchequer impact of the tax-free retirement lump sums allowed. Based on broad assumptions and an extrapolation of certain available data, it is estimated that the additional tax yield from taxing lump sums of up to €200,000 at 20% in respect of the public service could be about €85 million in a full year. I have no data on which to provide a similar estimate in relation to the private sector. I should point out, however, that one significant difference between public sector and private sector pension schemes is that private sector schemes invariably allow scheme members the option of commuting part of their pension fund for a tax-free lump sum. The option of receiving benefits in the form of pension only is not available to members of public sector schemes. Depending on the impact of any tax charge on retirement lump sums, the option to commute part of a pension fund may no longer be exercised by private sector pension scheme members or may be exercised in a manner that reduces the value of the lump sum taken to minimise or avoid any immediate tax charge.