A case against one of the partners in musical duo Foster and Allen for not filing tax returns was dismissed in the District Court this week (March 24 ) after a judge accepted the letter of compliance Mr Tony Allen received from his accountant Paddy Russell on Revenue Commissioner-headed paper was “a forgery”.
The court was told how the 60-year-old musician from Killeenatore, Mount Temple, Moate had paid “about €30,000 over the years” for these professional services from Russell, a former barrister who was jailed in July 2007 for defying a High Court judge, and business associate of ex-Taoiseach Albert Reynolds,
“Mr Allen is entitled to trust his accountants,” said Judge John Neilan.
“I can find no fault on Mr Allen’s behalf, that he had any criminal intent with his [tax] returns and I refuse to impose a conviction. Mr Allen had been led up the garden path by Mr Russell...[who] had failed totally, miserably to deal with affairs.”
The judge continued: “One of the interesting features of this case was that Mr Russell conveyed to Mr Allen by way of a forged document headed ‘Revenue Commissioners’that his affairs were in order. I believe Mr Allen did all he could and any failings were Mr Russell’s”.
Mr Allen was in court for a fourth time since October 2008 after he failed to ensure his annual tax returns were filed for the four years between 2003 and 2007 and was facing a fine of up to €12,000.
However, in court yesterday Mr Peter D Jones for the State said: “I’m pleased to say he [Mr Allen] has regularised his position and the State would like to finalise matters today”.
The case had been adjourned in June and September to allow Russell answer a number of summons to explain how he failed to make these returns, but he refused to turn up on either occasion.
At the September sitting, Judge Neilan accepted these would not be served after hearing how Russell was recuperating from a stroke in the UK where he had been living permanently since February 2009.
Judge Neilan refused to award costs after ruling the State’s investigation had been justified and that Mr Allen could, at any time, have contacted Revenue himself to find out about his own affairs.
Allen had initially 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.
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 exposé 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 2009, Allen's musical partner for the last 32 years, Mick Foster, was fined €12,000 in Mullingar District Court for the identical offence of failing to make tax returns for four years. This was halved on appeal. It was not revealed in court whether he retained the same firm.