[Sinn Fein]

6th July 2002

Ansbacher ``damning indictment of wealthy elite and financial institutions''

Sinn Fein Dáil group leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has described the Ansbacher Report as a ``damning indictment of the wealthy elite in Irish society'' and of successive governments and the Central Bank who failed to tackle massive tax evasion and avoidance organised by financial institutions. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

``The Ansbacher Report finally reveals officially what has been known for a long time - that Ansbacher was a massive scam operated for years for the benefit of some of the wealthiest people in Ireland. Its purpose was to ensure that these people made no contribution to Irish society through taxation. This was at a time in the 1980s and early `90s when our people were suffering the effects of cutbacks in health and education and other public services. While peope died on waiting lists, others queued up to be part of this exclusive banking club. Our pubic services, particuarly health, have still not fully recovered from the cuts of that time.

``We see from this report that those who could most afford to contribute to the public finances at a time of economic downturn were the very people who went to great lengths to swindle the ordinary PAYE taxpayer who bore the burden.

``One of the most damning conclusions of this Report is its finding that the Central Bank failed to ``test, appraise and gather the information available to it'' and that this ``resulted in the true nature of Ansbacher's activities going undetected for longer than ought to have been the case''.

``Successive governments failed to tackle this corruption at the heart of the Irish financial sytem. In some cases government members were part of that corruption.

``We know of Ansbacher and the NIB scandal but how many other such scams were operated and are currently operating?

``Directors of financial institutions who failed to co-operate with the Ansbacher inquiry should not be permitted to operate again on the boards of such institutions.

``The real question to be answered now is whether any action will be taken against the financial institutions who facilitated white collar crime in the Ansbacher scandal and other scams. White collar crime, facilitated by hugely profitable financial institutions, has enjoyed a virtual amnesty in this State up to now. If the Ansbacher report is not a turning point for the accountability of financial insitutions then it will have been a wasted exercise.''

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