Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Weapons firms run for cover in Ireland

From Ireland's Sunday Tribune:

"FIVE of the world's leading weapons manufacturers have based multi-billion-euro companies in Ireland in order to avoid tax. Despite the size of these Irish-based operations, which in 2008 alone had a total of €6.34bn on their books, they have just two employees registered in Ireland.

A Sunday Tribune investigation has found that in the same year the companies had a combined turnover of €724.7m with profits amounting to €387m, but paid less than €375,000 to the Irish state, an effective tax rate of 0.09%."

We're talking about Black Hawk helicopters, nuclear submarines, and much more. And here is a nasty little detail, revealing one of these structures as a kind of conflict-rich version of Northern Rock:

"One of the firms uses an Irish-registered homeless charitable trust to shift debts off its balance sheet – debts accrued in 2001 as part of a €1.3bn refinancing operation."

In the longer investigative article accompanying the story, TJN's senior adviser Richard Murphy explains a key role that Ireland plays:

"Murphy says that many of these operations are simply designed to reduce their tax liability in the US and transfer finance to tax havens such as the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and Jersey.

"Irish companies are normally linked to companies in tax haven countries. Ireland is respected so the US authorities can ask no questions about their operations there and the Irish authorities don't ask foreigners about payments to and from tax havens."

The Irish Department of Finance says Ireland isn't regarded as a tax haven by either the Organisation for Economic Co-0peration and Development (OECD) or other governments, including the US. Well, as this example clearly shows - that is a reflection of how full of holes these blacklists are, and says little about tax haven Ireland.

One of the commenters below the first story sums it up nicely:

"Ireland what a sweet lil country!"

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