“Bunch of Thyme” granted to musician in tax probe

Tony Allen, the second member of the county's most successful singing duet to face charges of not filing annual tax returns in time, got a brief reprieve in the District Court this week (June 10 ) to allow time for his controversial accountant to appear and explain why he didn't answer a summons issued by Allen's legal team.

Allen (59 ), with an address at Killeenatoore, Mount Temple, Moate had been summonsed on four counts of breaching Section 950 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, which requires annual tax returns to be filed by October 31, which neither Allen nor his agents had done for the years 2003-6.

However, in court this week Allen's solicitor, Mr Cormac Lohan, explained that his client's retained accountant, Patrick Russell, a former barrister and business partner of ex-Taoiseach Albert Reynolds, “had kept all the original papers but was no longer in practice”.

Mr Lohan told Judge John Neilan his firm had served papers on Russell at five separate addresses without success.

A somewhat sympathetic Judge Neilan accepted this but told Mr Lohan: “This allegation made by Mr Allen that Patrick Russell failed to do his duty is not a matter for this court”.

“I don't know if the evidence of Mr Russell will influence this court one iota,” said Judge Neilan. “Mr Russell may have a very simple answer to the whole thing.

“The obligation of this court is to see if his [Allen's] returns have been made and you can make any excuses and we must listen to them but if they are frivolous, vexatious or mischievous you can go to another court,” said the judge to Mr Lohan.

Evidence was produced through the testimony of Mr Lohan's associate that a number of summonses had been issued to Russell.

Mr Lohan suggested Russell “has had medical difficulties since”.

Judge Neilan adjourned the case to September 16 “to ascertain why Mr Russell didn't answer the summons”.

In July 2007 Russell, of Steelstown, Rathcoole, Co Dublin was jailed by Mr Justice Peter Kelly in the High Court after finding he had ‘‘thumbed his nose’’ at his contractual obligations and orders of the court and had his conduct described by said judge as “quite disgraceful”.

He was also the subject of a Prime Time expose into his business practices and first came to public attention when he was linked with an investigation into a Jersey-based company called Universal Management Consultants (UMC ), in which former Taoiseach Reynolds had a beneficial interest.

The Mahon Tribunal probed UMC’s involvement in an attempted land purchase in north Dublin as part of the tribunal’s Lissenhall module in 2006 and the Oireachtas Committee on members' interests investigated Reynold's involvement in UMC in 2000 following a complaint that Reynolds had failed to declare the nature of his involvement in several companies.

Prime Time showed that evidence given by Reynolds to the tribunal in 2006 in relation to UMC contradicted his statements to the Oireachtas committee in 2000.

In November, Allen's musical partner for the last 32 years, Mick Foster, was fined €12,000 in Mullingar District Court for failing to make tax returns for four years.

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