No names, no pack drill

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee’s inquiry on Organised Crime in Northern Ireland has been hearing evidence from officials at the Department of Social Development today. The BBC report that the evidence includes a NIO memorandum which highlighted the existence in Northern Ireland of “sham” charities set up as sophisticated tax avoidance vehicles, involving sums running into millions of pounds. No names, no pack drill.. as usual.. More from the Press Association report hereFrom the BBC report

A Northern Ireland Office memo put before the committee, acknowledged the existence of “certain organisations associated publicly with current and former paramilitary groups” which did have legitimate charitable purposes.

But it stated: “PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) investigations have highlighted cases where bank accounts in the names of charitable organisations, associated with current and former paramilitary groups, have been used to encash money collected from extortion and other criminal activities.

“In these cases, persons with strong paramilitary connections undertook the criminal activities.”

The memorandum also highlighted the existence in Northern Ireland of “sham” charities set up as sophisticated tax avoidance vehicles, involving sums running into millions of pounds.

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  • fair_deal

    I agree the no names no pack drill is getting very frustrating and means theeye of suspicion falls widely rather than on the culprits.

    If as the memo says the PSNI have the evidence of this why hasn’t there been action?

  • Rory

    The first pledge of the manifesto of the first Labour government to be elected in Britain was to abolish all charities (the second pledge was home rule for Wales). It’s high time the pledge was honoured and I speak as an accountant with twenty years experience of accounting in the charitable sector.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    I’ve come across two dodgy charities. Bizarrely, the person who told me about the first one (which appeared highly profitable for the owner) ended up being involved in the second charity scam.

    A few years ago, he ended up on the wrong end of a camera on Channel 4’s Dispatches for using Ballymena Red Cross as a front to transport former MoD trucks to the Serbs (which were supposed to go to Red Cross)… strange, but true.

    It’s an extreme case above, but I do think a Charity Commission is long overdue. It’s essentially unregulated here, and while the larger charities – like those which are UK or Ireland-wide – have generally nothing to fear (and indeed call for new legislation to be passed), they all should be made to account for each and every penny we give to them goes.

    Those that can’t should be named and investigated.

  • missfitz

    The moves to have a charity commission are well under way, and we received some stuff from NICVA about it a couple of weeks ago.

    Rory, I disagree with you on the abolition of charities. I have worked in this sector for 10 years now and a lot of valuable work is done by some dedicated people. Prior to my current job, I worked for the Alzheimers society, and we offered invaluable information, advice and support to some very vulnerable people and carers. We also raised money for research and served as a lifeline for thousands of people.

    My present charity is every bit as valuable in a different way, and on more than one occasion, I have interevened when someone was suicidal or had no food to eat.

    On the other hand, without doubt there are chances out there, one or two of which I know myself. It is long overdue to have an oversight body for the sake of all the genuine groups out there that need the on going good will of the public

  • lib2016

    Not only is supervision needed in the charitable field but it wouldn’t do any harm to check up on the goings on of the religious nutters either.

    Who knows how many dodgy characters there are out there?