Sunday Independent to reveal more Anglo tapes
The offshore company was used several years before Quinn was accused by the former Anglo Irish Bank of using a British Virgin Islands company to put multimillion of euros in assets beyond the reach of the bank. Lawyers for Anglo Irish, now known as … See all stories on this topic »
But one group of victims now stand doubly victimised – former employees of the old Anglo Irish Bank, who are still on the staff of IBRC. Professionals who had nothing to do with the high-risk approach at the top. People who, quite literally never did … See all stories on this topic »
Kyiv’s Ukraina mall seeks $15 million from former managers linked to Irish ex-billionaire Sean Quinn Sr.
The Ukraina shopping mall‘s management alleged that some $15 million was illegally transferred from accounts in an asset stripping scheme implemented by Laryssa Yanez Puga, the former manager, and “her close allies.”
Management at Kyiv’s lucrative Ukraina shopping mall announced it will demand $15 million in compensation that it says was illegally transferred in 2010-2012 by Laryssa Yanez Puga, Ukraina’s former manager, and up to ten of her “close allies,” a press release said.
Conservative scholar, talk radio host, and former Reagan administration official Mark Levin said conservatives need to first overthrow the Republican establishment to more successfully take on President Barack Obama and the institutional left.
“We cannot get through Obama and the left until we get through the Republican Establishment,” Levin said, railing against establishment consultants who attack the base and politicians who know nothing of “Burkean reform” because they have spent their whole careers “clawing their way to the top.”
In a talk at the Heritage Foundation on Wednesday with his mentor, former Reagan Attorney General Ed Meese, for whom Levin served as Chief of Staff, Levin said the Republican Party is, “devouring the conservative movement,” and the old bulls need to step aside in favor of a new generation of conservatives who are fluent in conservatism.
“It’s time for the old bulls to get out of the way and for the fresh faces who believe in conservatism and liberty and originalist principles to step up,” Levin said, criticizing those like House Speaker John Boehner for “yielding territory” to the left in negotiations.
Levin said the Tea Party consists of constitutionalists, libertarians, Evangelicals, and those who are against the rigged establishment, beltway culture that for too long has not embraced conservatism and, as a consequence, lost national elections (George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, John McCain, Mitt Romney).
“The Tea Party is the only thing that stands between liberty and tyranny,” Levin said. “We have to defeat the Republican establishment mush in Washington, D.C.”
Levin also named the establishment media organizations and institutions on the right that he said were not helping advance the conservative cause.
He said, “in a lot of our media outlets,” there are “a lot of old, dreary people who are just around all the time” who “reject” Reaganism.
Levin named Bill Kristol at the Weekly Standard, who recently called for more tax increases; and the National Review, the Washington establishment publication that vigorously supported Mitt Romney in the primaries, Levin said, in many ways, has “become a mouthpiece for the Republican party.”
Levin said the Republican Party will go the way of the Whig Party if they do not put out more “cutting-edge intellectuals and artistic” spokespeople for the conservative cause that transcends race or class.
Shortly after President Barack Obama was elected in 2008, Levin wrote Liberty and Tyranny, which sold over a million copies despite not being reviewed and being completely ignored by mainstream media outlets and programs.
The prescient book not only clearly articulated what would eventually turn out to be the Tea Party’s opposition to Obama’s statism (Levin knew what Obama was going to do before even Obama) but was also symbolic of how, in the new media age, books and ideas could commercially succeed without the legacy media institutions of yesterday that no longer act as gatekeepers.
To appeal to young people and minorities with conservatism, Levin said Republicans needed to call on parents and grandparents to have an impact on young people and appeal to their sense of liberty and anti-authoritarianism.
He said this “bottom up federalism” can appeal not only to young people but to minorities.
Levin noted that capitalism is the plan and the strategy is the constitution, and that was the foundation of Reaganism.
He said after Reagan, George H.W. Bush lurched to the left rather than “build up Reaganism” and the party and the conservative movement has not been the same since.
Levin also said ethnic front groups who want more balkanization instead of assimilation are also threats and need to be called out.
In talking about Republican institutions, Levin said the Republican National Committee needs to be managed better because, simply put, “when you lose, you gotta bring some other people here.”
“Backbenchers need to go to the front,” Levin said, noting that the frontbencher establishment class has been trying to “clean out” conservatives who do not toe the moderate, establishment line.
Levin said Obama would inevitably overreach on many fronts during his second term. For instance, Levin predicted Obama would try to break down America’s sovereignty by working with the United Nations on a global tax and committing America to more international military arrangements.
“The people are going to rise up,” Levin said.
When discussing the future of conservatism, Levin highlighted in particular Texas Senator-elect Ted Cruz and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, among others.
“I love Sarah Palin,” Levin said.
“You see how intelligent she is?,” Levin asked, noting that Palin is nothing like the caricature of her on the left and in the mainstream media.
Levin said Palin should be given credit for effectively and enthusiastically articulating the conservative cause, even though she has been attacked by the mainstream media and the Republican establishment.
“Yet, she still rallies the base a hundred times more than these people telling us what we are supposed to do,” Levin said.
If, as we are told, everything is on the budgetary table, why is there no place for an increase in the corporate tax rate? By Michael Taft.
We are constantly assured (warned) that ‘everything is on the table’. All manner of tax increases and spending cuts are being considered, and none are ruled out in principle. So, goes the script. There is one issue, however, that is not on the table. It is not even in the room. It is not even in the house or lurking around the grounds. And that issue is the corporate tax rate. Why?If we increased the corporate tax rate, this would undermine our ability to attract foreign direct investment. This, in turn, would result in fewer jobs being created and put current jobs at risk; further, it would lower exports which would skewer our balance of payments. All that value-added and economic activity would be jeopardised.
Before we confront this argument, let’s first look at how successful multinationals (MNCs) are in racking up profits in Ireland (also, this analysis from Michael Burke is worth a read). From this, we might get a sense of how sensitive they would be to an increase in the corporate tax rate. For, in truth, they are really really racking up the profits.
Ireland is not just a league-leader, it is off the chart. MNCs here make more than four times the profit per employees than the average of the other EU-15 countries reporting (no data for Belgium or Greece). No wonder more and more multinationals are making Ireland their home. It should be noted that this Eurostat data does not include the financial sector, so the massive profits being made in the IFSC are not included. Nor does the above include taxation – we’ll come to this later.
Not only are MNC profits high in Ireland, they are resilient. 2009 was the year that saw global profitability fall. But not in Ireland. Whereas in 2009 profits fell in the other EU-13 countries by an average of 17%, in Ireland they fell by less than 1%.
This is just the overview – let’s look at some key MNC sectors in Ireland. In the Manufacturing and Information & Communication sectors, Irish MNC profits are through the roof.
In the Manufacturing sector, MNC profitability in Ireland is nearly ten times that of MNCs in other countries. In Information & Communication, the ratio is more than three-to-one.
In other sectors, MNCs in Ireland also exceed the EU average but not to the same degree.
In each of these sectors – particularly retail and transport – MNC profits in Ireland significantly exceed the average of other countries.
Only in two sectors – the Professional & Scientific and Accommodation – is MNC profit in Ireland lower than the average of other EU countries. These two sectors, however, are relatively small, making up less than 2% of the turnover of all MNCs in Ireland.
Another insight is MNC by home country. US multinationals have a strong presence in Ireland – making up nearly two-thirds of all MNC turnover in Ireland. American MNCs take €240,000 in profit per employee here in Ireland; in the other EU countries, they take only €31,800. More interesting, despite the global recession, American MNCs increased their profit per employee in 2009 by over 8% in Ireland. In other EU countries, American MNCs suffered a loss of nearly 21%.
Another, albeit smaller category, is MNCs owned by ‘offshore financial centres’ (OFCs). One would assume that these would be primarily involved in the financial sector. But the data here refers to the non-financial business sector. These OFCs are still relatively small (making up only 3% of all MNC turnover in Ireland). But they are growing In the dark days of 2009, OFCs saw their turnover nearly double over 2008, with the number of OFCs operating in Ireland also doubling. And no wonder: they take nearly €61,000 in profits per employed in Ireland while in other countries this figure is nearly half – €34,300.
Of course, there is an Alice-in-Wonderland character to all these numbers. Profits, turnover, value-added – these are all distorted by transfer pricing. MNCs do not actually produce these levels of profit in Ireland – not all of them; they ‘report’ a considerable level of profit here, taking advantage of transfer-pricing in order to exploit our ultra-low corporate tax rates and the facility to engage in global tax avoidance (which is why a US Senate Committee described Ireland as a tax haven – see page 30).
But we should also take note: all of the above reports profits before tax. If we had an after-tax figure, we’d find the gap between MNCs in Ireland and the other EU countries grow even wider. For instance, Germany comes second when it comes to MNC profit per employee, at €42,600. On that they pay a headline corporate tax rate of 30%. In Ireland, with MNCs taking €110,600 per employee, the headline rate is 12.5%. Yes, the effective tax rate (after reliefs and allowances) will be lower – but it will be lower for both countries.
Profits are rising in Ireland. They increased by 4% in 2010 and 7% in 2011. According to the CSO, this is largely accruing to multinationals.
So here is a question: if all things are on the budgetary table, why is there no place for an increase in the corporate tax rate? This would not undermine pre-tax profits, and even if it were raised by a mere 2.5%, it would still be lower – much lower – than almost any other European country.
And here is another question: where in Europe, indeed the world, can MNCs make as much profit as in Ireland even if the corporate tax rate were increased?
So, why is the issue of the corporate tax rate taboo? That’s an easy question to answer: because it has been elevated to almost metaphysical status. In the Dail the Taoiseach stated piously:
“The key elements of the Jobs Initiative included: reaffirming, as the Minister for Finance repeated yesterday, that our 12.5% corporate tax rate remains sacrosanct…”
To declare something sacrosanct is not an invitation to debate. It is a threat. For to challenge the sacrosanct is to engage in heresy, blasphemy, apostasy.
So suck it up. Cut homecare help, bash low-paid workers (public and private), slash social protection, close down services, tax average income earners even more. But don’t anyone dare mention the holy of holies – the corporate tax rate.
Irish Golden Circle still shining despite massive recession — Still running the show despite bankrupting the country
Brian Goggin, formerly of the Bank of Ireland
They were called the golden circle, the people in the inside loop who made lots of money during the boom years here.
I’m not just talking about the property speculators and developers playing with their borrowed billions who were in an inner platinum circle all of their own. The golden circle was far wider than that.
It included bankers, lawyers, accountants, financial advisers, brokers, management consultants, IT experts, the top layer of professionals of all kinds — and it also included the senior levels in the civil service and state agencies, the guys and gals who actually run the country for the politicians.
So having comprehensively screwed up the country and plunged us into a financial catastrophe so bad that we had to be rescued by the IMF and the EU, all these guys and gals are now out of a job, right?
Not at all. This is Ireland, after all. The unbelievable, extraordinary truth is that almost all these experts and advisers have held on to their top jobs and are still doing very well, thank you very much.
While the ordinary folk here struggle in the darkness of lay-offs, welfare cutbacks and tax hikes, the sun is still shining brightly on our golden circle.
Of course there has been some token changes. At the very top of the Department of Finance, the Central Bank, the Financial Regulator‘s office and, of course the banks, a few people were shifted. A couple went to cozy positions in Europe with big salaries attached, and the others were put out to grass with pension pots worth millions and huge golden handshakes so they can continue to enjoy the privileged lifestyles they expect.
Only a very small number of people were moved from the leadership roles they had. In fact you could count on two hands the number of top dogs who were moved.
The majority of the top layer of people, who all played a part directly or indirectly in destroying our economy, are still there. The senior civil servants, the financial experts, the consultants, the lawyers, the accountants and auditors are all there and still being paid boom time salaries and fees.
The game has changed, of course. Instead of advising the government and businesses on the boom, they are now advising them on the bust.
The bankers and accountants and auditors and consultants who failed to see the developing bubble are now the ones making fortunes dealing with all the businesses that are going bust. Dozens of them have even been hired to play key roles in NAMA, the national bad bank where all the toxic property loans have been dumped.
So the very people who made the mess are now the ones making a very lucrative living out of trying to sort it out. Two or three of the biggest legal firms and accountancy firms here which were up to their necks in the boom are now “advising” on the bust.
This is enough to give you indigestion. But what is really sickening is that the members of this very large golden circle are still charging eye-watering fees for their services.
We’re talking hundreds of euros an hour here. And
they are getting away with this even though the country is broke — and it’s broke thanks to their incompetence.
It starts right at the top, of course, with our politicians, who are paid far more than their European counterparts. We all know the taoiseach (our prime minister) earns more than the U.S. President. But he also is paid more than the British prime minister and more than the heads of most European countries, which may be a less dramatic comparison but is more relevant.
The same applies to the civil servants who head up government departments here, and to many other areas of Irish government and professional life. Consultant doctors and top lawyers in Ireland earn far more than their counterparts in Europe.
Further down the ladder, senior teachers here earn at least 20 percent more than teachers in Britain, for example. And it goes on and on, increasingly dividing Irish society into those who are comfortable and those who are struggling to make ends meet.
The common factor among those who are doing okay — in case you haven’t spotted it already — is that they all work for the state or for semi-state organizations (except for the bank bosses, although you could say they also work for the state since the state now owns the banks).
This influences fees that are charged by others who provide professional services to the state (like lawyers and accountants) and so they keep their fees and charges high. Why should they bring them down when they see all the others in the golden circle hanging on to their high pay and status?
What all this means is that we are developing two Irelands. There are those who are paid by the state, directly or indirectly, and who see no reason to moderate their pay or pensions as long as the state can borrow enough to keep going; since it’s all paid for by borrowing, there’s no real limit.
Then there is everyone in the private sector, where pay and pensions depend directly on the ability of a company to make a profit and stay in business –and for more and more of them, the cost of keeping a job or continuing to get a pension means taking huge cuts in what they are getting.
The pension divide between the two Irelands is even more nauseating than the pay situation. Let’s start with two of the most infuriating examples from the top of the golden circle.
You may remember the name Brian Goggin, the boss of Bank of Ireland during the boom. You also may remember the name Eugene Sheehy, who was the boss of AIB during the boom and property bubble, which of course only happened because the two banks (the biggest in Ireland) made it possible through reckless lending.
Sheehy has a bit of extra notoriety because he was one of the senior bankers who had the late night meeting with the taoiseach and the minister for finance in September 2008 and pleaded for help to help them get through their “temporary liquidity problem.”
The result was the government guaranteed all bank debt, a decision that has bankrupted the country because the real level of the bank debts was many times greater than Sheehy and his buddies revealed to the government that night.
The banks did not just have a liquidity problem. They were insolvent. They were completely bust, owing tens of billions of euro with not a hope of ever being able to pay it back.
So Goggin and Sheehy were major players in destroying the Irish economy and losing us our economic sovereignty. Not only that, but we taxpayers have had to meet the cost of pouring billions into AIB and Bank of Ireland to keep them open.
Did the two boyos go to jail? Or even have to do some community service to atone for what they had done? Not at all. This is Ireland, after all.
They were both moved, given early retirement. And this is the best bit. Goggin is on a pension of €650,000 a year for the rest of his life. Sheehy’s pension is €450,000 a year for life.
Both are still relatively young. Sheehy has gone
back to college. Goggin is back at work, playing a leading role in a multi-billion U.S. investment group that is targeting distressed property loans in Ireland and buying baskets of insurance policies from finance institutions here that are under pressure.
These are extreme examples of the way golden circle members here get looked after. But the same stuff goes on all the way down the state food chain, with state employees getting very generous guaranteed pensions for life, typically between half and two thirds their final salary.
And it’s all funded by state borrowing, so there is no limit on what it costs. Contrast this with the private sector, where almost 80 percent of company pension funds are bust, thanks to the financial collapse.
Let’s take an example to illustrate what’s going on. The pension fund in Independent Newspapers, the biggest newspaper group in Ireland where this writer has worked, now has a black hole in it of some €160 million and is probably going to be closed down, leaving a lot of people with little or nothing.
Meanwhile out at Dublin Airport, the umbrella pension fund that looks after staff in Aer Lingus, the DAA company that runs Irish airports and a linked aircraft maintenance company, has a black hole in it of €750 million. Because Aer Lingus and the DAA are semi-state companies, the unions are trying to force the government to pump money into this pension fund so staff can get their full pensions.
And you are all going to know about this very soon because the unions are threatening a wave of strikes in the run up to Christmas that could disrupt trans-Atlantic flights.
The fact that the pension fund is bust — there’s no way back from a €750 million deficit — and the state is bust, makes no impression on these semi-state workers. As far as they are concerned the state must borrow to back fill their pension fund. It’s that simple.
In the real world of the private sector, such nonsense is not an option for workers because their companies cannot borrow like this and could go under if they tried. Independent Newspapers is already struggling for survival, quite apart from its pensions problem.
It’s a two Ireland scenario. Unfortunately the politicians and the civil servants who run the country are all part of the Ireland that is okay.
They talk a lot, but there is no action to reduce the problem for the private sector workers who are part of the other Ireland. Instead we get lectures from union leaders about avoiding a race to the bottom in wages and pensions.
Like I said, the golden circle is still shining, but the glow is making the rest of us feel like throwing up.
The minister has been accused of stroke politics in recent weeks, after two towns in his Dublin North constituency — Balbriggan and Swords — were added to a list of locations for primary care centres.
Yesterday it was confirmed that a meeting with NAMA took place on April 20 and a number of primary care locations were discussed, including Balbriggan.”However, no specific address was mentioned,” stressed Dr Reilly.
He added: “Within its commercial remit NAMA advises that it is at all times open to proposals which can contribute to the achievement of broader social and economic objectives. In this context many issues of interest to the health services were discussed.”
A spokesman for the minister said there had been “no discussion of any specific primary care site — NAMA would be precluded from so doing”.
But Mr Doherty raised further questions about whether Minister for Health James Reilly was “hands-on with the issue of the selection of a primary care centre site in Balbriggan”.
He added: “Why did Minister Reilly not divulge this information before now?”
He said the minister had repeatedly stated that he had nothing to do with the choice of the site for the Balbriggan primary care centre.
During an Oireachtas debate in September, Dr Reilly said:”I had no hand, act nor part in this.”
The recent controversy over the location of primary care centres escalated after it was revealed that a Fine Gael associate, Seamus Murphy, originally owned the site in Balbriggan chosen for the primary care building.
However, it later transpired the site was in NAMA and the original owner would not benefit from its sale.
Mr Doherty said there continued to be unanswered questions about the Balbriggan site.
The two key Ministers dealing with the troika of international lenders marked the end of the eighth quarterly review of the programme yesterday by saying the emphasis of all parties had now shifted to ensuring Ireland was the first programme country to re-enter sovereign bond markets.
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin both gave an upbeat assessment of how Ireland had performed in the two years since the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund began overseeing the Irish economy.
In contrast, the troika raised more concerns about risks and programme implementation during next year than in previous reports on Ireland’s progress.
In a statement, it praised the “steadfast” performance of the Government in meeting targets but also highlighted a number of “significant risks” and concerns for next year that it implied the Government needed to address urgently.
These included overruns in the health sector.
It also described unemployment, especially among young people, as “unacceptably” high and was critical of job activation programmes, which it said needed to be more vigorous, and needed also to involve the private sector.
It also referred to the critical issue of mortgage arrears where it said “intensified efforts” were required.
Speaking at a press conference in Government Buildings, Mr Noonan disclosed that the European Union was working on a paper that would be ready by Christmas outlining the options Ireland could take during next year to exit the programme.
He also set out key political aims that would ease Ireland’s passage back into the international bond markets.
These included a deal on the historic cost of recapitalisation, and also a statement from ECB president Mario Draghi that Ireland could avail of the ECB bondbuying programme before exiting the bailout.
Mr Noonan said such a statement could reduce the interest on Ireland’s longterm borrowing by up to two percentage points.
One option, he said, would be to raise €17 billion next year to put 18 months of sovereign funding in place and then to maintain that reserve.
That would insulate Ireland from unforeseen events or systemic shocks, he said.
Mr Noonan said he was very confident Ireland would exit the programme by the end of next year “in all circumstances”, irrespective of getting relief on the historic cost of bank recapitalisation.
Mr Howlin pointed out that Ireland had drawn down 80 per cent of the €67 billion loan from the troika and had fulfilled 160 conditions.
“We are the most successful programme country. We have hit all the targets,” he said.
Separately, a highranking member of Germany’s central bank warned against using Europe’s nascent banking union to deal with “past sins”.
He insisted he was not trampling over Irish hopes for debt relief but said people should be “particularly realistic” about what was doable or not.
“Mutualising the risks from legacy assets could well overburden partners – fiscally or politically – and you should not do that,” he said.
“Nobody wants to dash any hopes. Everybody wants Ireland to stay on track and get over the crisis and be successful.”
From The Irish Times