By Isabel Hayes
A company director who created bogus invoices to avoid paying nearly €50,000 in tax has been jailed for six months.
Stephen Power would never have been prosecuted if he had owned up to Revenue as soon as they started investigating him, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard.
Instead, he made no admissions and was found to have avoided paying taxes to the value of €47,700 between 2010 and 2013.
Power, with an address at Turvey Avenue, Donabate, Co Dublin pleaded guilty to four counts of knowingly filing incorrect end-of-year tax returns to Revenue between January 2011 and December 2013.
He also pleaded guilty to four counts of failing to pay income tax on dates between January 2010 and December 2013.
As director of his computer consultancy company, SM Logistics, Power also pleaded guilty on the company’s behalf to the same charges.
“I’m afraid I’m guilty,” he told the court. He has no previous convictions.
Revenue officer Patrick Cosgrove told the court that Power created bogus invoices purporting to be from a French consultancy company. However, this company confirmed to Revenue it had never done any work for SM Logistics.
Instead, Power had transferred the money to his own accounts in order to pay a number of mortgages he had on French property, the court heard.
The amount of tax that Power should have paid to Revenue amounted to €47,700, Mr Cosgrove told the court. This included corporate and income tax.
The matters came to light when SM Logistics was randomly audited in 2012 and Power was then personally audited.
Judge Martin Nolan said Power could have cooperated with Revenue and avoided prosecution.
“With Revenue, if you come clean at the start of the process, you will not be criminally prosecuted,” he said. “For his own reasons, this defendant ignored that chance.”
The judge said it was a sizeable sum of money and merited a custodial sentence. He handed down an 18-month sentence and suspended the final year.
Remy Farrell SC, defending, said at the time of the offending, his client was under “extraordinary stress”.
The country was in recession, he was having financial difficulties with investment properties in France and one of his children had serious medical problems. That child has since made a full recovery, the court heard.
Power repaid the amount owed to Revenue and is prepared to pay a civil penalty if necessary.
Judge Nolan also fined the company €500.