Carthy slams Appleby for refusal to meet MEPs in Isle of Man
Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has criticised the refusal of law firm Appleby to meet with MEPs during the visit by the European Parliament’s TAX3 special committee on financial crimes, tax evasion and tax avoidance to the Isle of Man that took place yesterday and today.
Speaking at the end of the fact-finding mission, Carthy said: “This is the second time that the law firm at the centre of the Paradise Papers, Appleby, turned down our request to engage with the TAX3 committee. First both Appleby and Baker McKenzie refused to attend a hearing on the role of intermediaries in the Paradise Papers in June.
“Now Appleby’s Isle of Man branch has refused to attend a meeting with MEPs during our visit to the island. Appleby, along with accountancy firm EY, was at the heart of the VAT avoidance scheme revealed by the Paradise Papers leak to be operating in the Isle of Man. The firm’s refusal to meet with us is more than disappointing – it is unacceptable.
“The European Commission has begun infringement procedures this month in relation to the VAT avoidance scheme, which has denied VAT revenue to several member states. In this context, it is just not acceptable that the firm that designed this scheme has point-blank refused to engage with the elected representatives of countries across the EU who are seeking information about how these institutions operate, and what changes have been put in place since the Appleby leak.
“During our fact-finding visit I was able to pose questions to government representatives and officials from Treasury, Customs, and the financial services regulators about Irish links to the Isle of Man revealed in the Paradise Papers. These links include the role of William Fry solicitors in Dublin in repeatedly referring their clients to the Isle of Man Appleby branch; the vast web of shell companies and trusts that Denis O’Brien has set up on the island to manage his business affairs; and the Irish individuals who benefited from the VAT exemption on luxury aircraft.
“It was positive to hear of the government’s plans for new legislation on economic substance, aimed at tackling letterbox companies. I appreciate the frank and open discussions that we held with island officials from across various departments during our visit about these issues, which are by no means limited to the Isle of Man.
“Unfortunately I cannot say the same about one of the key players in the Isle of Man financial services industry, namely Appleby, whose refusal to engage with us demonstrated their contempt for transparency and public accountability. It is clear that self-regulation of the legal and accountancy profession is not working, and it is well past time that the lawyers and tax advisors who enable, design and promote these damaging schemes are properly regulated and held to account.” ENDS