Ryanair staff in tax dodge probe

Ger­man au­thor­i­ties in­ves­ti­gate four staff but air­line is not un­der any sus­pi­cion

Irish Independent - - Front Page - John Mul­li­gan Re­port & anal­y­sis: Page 6

FOUR Ryanair em­ploy­ees in Ire­land are be­ing in­ves­ti­gated on sus­pi­cion of in­cit­ing tax eva­sion in Ger­many.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion is part of a lengthy probe by Ger­man au­thor­i­ties into the tax and em­ploy­ment po­si­tion of pi­lots work­ing in the coun­try for Ryanair un­der third-party con­tracts.

The Ger­man pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice in Koblenz con­firmed that four di­rectly em­ployed Ryanair staff mem­bers re­main un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion, and that the probe will con­tinue for some time. It has now also emerged th­ese staff are based in Ire­land.

Last year, six Ryanair bases in Ger­many were raided on sus­pi­cion of eva­sion of in­come taxes and so­cial se­cu­rity pay­ments by pi­lots fly­ing the air­line’s air­craft.

Ryanair it­self is not sus­pected of any wrong­do­ing by Ger­man au­thor­i­ties. It has agreed to help Ger­man tax au­thor­i­ties as they in­ves­ti­gate con­tract pi­lots.

Mean­while, Ryanair re­leases re­sults for the first half of its fi­nan­cial year this morn­ing. Chief ex­ec­u­tive Michael O’Leary is cer­tain to up­date an­a­lysts and in­vestors fol­low­ing the flights can­cel­la­tions de­ba­cle.

FOUR Ryanair em­ploy­ees in Ire­land are be­ing in­ves­ti­gated on sus­pi­cion of in­cit­ing tax eva­sion in Ger­many.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion is part of a lengthy probe by Ger­man au­thor­i­ties into the tax and em­ploy­ment po­si­tion of pi­lots work­ing in the coun­try for Ryanair un­der third-party con­tracts.

Many of Ryanair’s 12,000 pi­lots and cabin crew work at the air­line on a con­tract ba­sis, rather than be­ing di­rectly em­ployed by the com­pany.

The Ger­man pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice in Koblenz con­firmed that four di­rectly em­ployed Ryanair staff mem­bers re­main un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion, and that the probe will con­tinue for some time. It also emerged th­ese staff are based in Ire­land. The probe is con­nected to an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice in Koblenz that in­ten­si­fied last year, when six Ryanair bases in Ger­many were raided on sus­pi­cion of sys­tem­atic eva­sion of in­come taxes and so­cial se­cu­rity pay­ments by pi­lots fly­ing the air­line’s air­craft. Some pi­lot homes were also searched, and elec­tronic equip­ment and doc­u­men­ta­tion were seized.

The pros­e­cu­tors in Koblenz said at the time that the raids were part of a probe into two UK firms that pro­vide con­tract staff to Ryanair. Pi­lots sourced by the agen­cies work with the air­line on a self-em­ployed ba­sis.

The firms were ac­cused by the au­thor­i­ties of with­hold­ing pi­lot salaries and taxes. Some pi­lots were ac­cused of fail­ing to make suf­fi­cient so­cial wel­fare con­tri­bu­tions.

“We have fin­ished our in­ves­ti­ga­tions against the per­sons re­spon­si­ble for the re­cruit­ment agen­cies and against the pi­lots,” said a spokesman for the Staat­san­waltschaft, or pub­lic pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice, in Koblenz.

He added that un­der Ger­man law, the peo­ple in­ves­ti­gated must be in­formed first of the out­come of a probe, and that that could take some time.

Once an in­ves­ti­ga­tion is com- plete, the pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice de­cides whether a case should be dis­missed or go to court.

He con­firmed that four Ryanair em­ploy­ees re­main un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion on “sus­pi­cion of in­cite­ment” to com­mit tax eva­sion.

“Un­der Ger­man law, I am not en­ti­tled to in­form you of which po­si­tion th­ese per­sons hold as that might en­able you to iden­tify them,” he added.

“Ac­cord­ing to our cur­rent knowl­edge, the four Ryanair em­ploy­ees be­ing in­ves­ti­gated are based in Ire­land.”

He added: “The four em­ploy­ees at Ryanair who are be­ing in­ves­ti­gated are di­rect em­ploy­ees of Ryanair. They are not em­ploy­ees of con­tract firms and they are not pi­lots.”

Ryanair said that it does not com­ment on “ru­mours and spec­u­la­tion”.

The spokesman for the Koblenz pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice said that un­der Ger­man law, crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions can­not be un­der­taken against com­pa­nies, only against in­di­vid­u­als.

Ryanair had con­firmed last year that it had agreed to as­sist Ger­man tax au­thor­i­ties as they in­ves­ti­gated con­tract Ryanair pi­lots. “Ryanair re­quires all of its pi­lots, both di­rectly em­ployed and con­trac­tor, to be fully tax com­pli­ant at all times,” it said at the time.

“The Ger­man tax au­thor­i­ties have con­firmed that Ryanair is not the sub­ject of any tax in­ves­ti­ga­tions.”

Ryanair re­leases re­sults for the first half of its fi­nan­cial year this morn­ing.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Michael O’Leary is cer­tain to up­date an­a­lysts and in­vestors on on-go­ing ef­forts to se­cure fresh pay agree­ments with pi­lots fol­low­ing a ros­ter­ing melt­down that saw the air­line ground thou­sands of flights. Ryanair has been try­ing to seal fresh pay deals with pi­lots, but pi­lots at some of its big­gest bases – in­clud­ing Lon­don Stansted – have re­jected the pro­pos­als.

The air­line has been un­der heavy fire since it an­nounced last month that 2,100 flights would be can­celled in Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber – up to 50 a day.

It re­cently said 98pc of cus­tomers im­pacted by flight can­cel­la­tions have been re­funded or trans­ferred on to other flights.

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