Irish turn to Big Six

The Big Six have been called in to provide solutions to a ragingtempt to find a solution to the political hot potato of money laundering by ghost firms. political row about non-resident companies registered in Ireland.

‘Ghost firms’, as the companies are known, are not new to Ireland but – against a backdrop of several by-elections – they have become a political hot potato in the last fortnight.

There are reports of internal government memos identifying an increase in the number of overseas companies using Irish registration, and there are fears some of these companies are involved in money-laundering, fraud and other illegal activities.

The Industrial Development Authority, which is responsible for attracting multi-national companies to Ireland, has commissioned a study by several members of the Big Six, and is using it as the basis for its views on a solution to the problem.

One source suggested the Irish Parliament might also turn to the Big Six for assistance in solving the problem. But a senior spokesman for the country’s Department of Trade & Employment said this was unlikely.

‘We are grappling with solutions at the moment. We are looking at possible changes to company law, tax law and money-laundering legislation. But we have a lot of tax and law experts of our own, so we probably won’t need the Big Six. We’ve already set up a working group to tackle the issues.’

The working party includes the Irish Inland Revenue, the Department of Finance, the Department of Trade and Employment, the Central Bank and the IDA.

A senior Big Six source in the UK said it would be an unusual step for the government to involve accountants. ‘It would be like calling in the poacher to report on the poacher,’ he said.

However, Andersen Consulting has produced a study on the issue for the IDA, which indicated there were several hundred multinationals acting ‘entirely properly’ from their non-residential base in Ireland. The IDA may use this as evidence to lobby against any changes which endanger legitimate companies.

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