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The Shelbourne Hotel

Dublin’s swish Shelbourne Hotel is a financial black hole. Its owners, who include property developer Bernard McNamara and oil distributor John Sweeney, have ploughed €230m into it with little prospect of any return.

An independent accountants’ report seen by The Sunday Business Post show a consortium of high-flying investors have earned nothing from their investment so far and “there is no expectation at present that there will be any return of investment in this property, nor indeed a repayment of capital in the short term”.

The report compiled by Baker Tilly Ryan Glennon will play a key role in Sweeney’s petition for examinership, which is due to be heard in the High Court tomorrow (Monday, February 8).

The consortium of investors paid €120m for the hotel in 2004 and then pumped a further €120m into a total renovation of the Stephens’ Green landmark.

Goodbody

Goodbody stockbrokers switched large chunks of clients’ funds out of Bank of Ireland stocks into AIB during the stockmarket turmoil in November 2008, The Sunday Independent reports.

The potential significance of this is that Goodbody is wholly owned by AIB. The company denies the move was an attempt to bolster the value of shares in its beleaguered parent.

Most shareholders are happy to give their broker discretion to manage their portfolios without consulting them about every trade – after all, this is what people actually pay a stockbroker to do! Many discretionary funds are private pension schemes and billions of euro are tied up in these.

Goodbody is adamant the decision to shift the funds was “based on our views at the time as to the values and future performance”.

In a comment piece, Sunday Independent business editor Shane Ross counsels that “Goodbody’s words of wisdom about AIB should come with a health warning”.

“Brass neck goes a long way in the cut-throat world of the stock market,” Ross says. “And Goodbody has brass neck – in spades.”

Media

Some of RTE’s top stars are facing the prospect of paying more tax if the Revenue decides they should be classed as employees, The Sunday Independent reports.

It had been speculated that long-term contractors would be targeted in last week’s Finance Bill but this failed to materialise.

However, the Sindo is now taking another bite at the story via the high earners in RTE such as Ryan Tubridy, Pat Kenny and Gerry Ryan who are paid through their companies rather than as employees.

“Any change in the criteria could have major implications for thousands of outsourced workers,” the newspaper notes.

Tax reliefs

The number of people claiming tax reliefs has more than trebled in the past five years, new figures from the Revenue Commissioners show.

More than 1.4m people claimed reliefs last year, according to The Sunday Business Post. The average rebate was around €380 with most claims arising from medical costs and work-related expenses.

The article notes that the 238,000 people who claimed for service charges last year will have that particular avenue closed to them after 2010, with reliefs on waste charges etc being phased out in last week’s Finance Bill.

Swiss Cheese

The Tax Man is looking for access to the controversial list of suspected tax defaulters who may have squirreled their money away in secret Swiss bank accounts.

The German authorities have paid €2.5m for the leaked list of 1,500 individuals in a move that has soured Swiss-German relations.  The Revenue is now planning to ask for a peek, something the Germans have agreed to do in the past with similar documents in its possession.

The Sunday Business Post reports that “getting information about Swiss bank accounts would be a massive coup for the Revenue, even if no names turned up on the list”.

“According to Revenue sources, it would prove that the era when tax evasion was widespread in Ireland had come to an end,” it says

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