Mrs Brown’s actors used offshore trust

Mrs Browns actors used offshore trust

Leaked papers show actors availed of trust set up by English accountant who advised Jimmy Carr

Mrs Brown’s Boys actors were paid through offshore structure to avoid tax, says Irish Times. As one of the partners of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists The Irish Times was supplied with the leaked Appleby files. It reported this week that three actors with the highly successful Mrs Brown’s Boys comedy were paid through an offshore structure that sheltered them from paying income tax on hundreds of thousands of euro each.

The actors who reportedly made use of the structure are Fiona Delany, daughter of the show’s creator, Brendan O’Carroll, who plays Maria Brown, and her husband, Martin, who plays Fr Trevor Brown. A third actor, Paddy Houlihan, who plays Dermot Brown in the highly successful comedy was also paid through the scheme.

“Borrow” from the funds

Money linked to the show was paid into funds in Mauritius owned by trusts operated by the Mauritius-based Appleby offshore law firm, and the actors were then able to “borrow” from the funds. Over the period from 2014 to earlier this year, each of the actors borrowed hundreds of thousands of euro from the money deposited offshore.

Total deposits to the offshore funds appear to have been greater than €1 million. The documents show lodgements to Martin Delany’s fund totalling £451,094 during 2014 alone, while loans totalling £194,847 were issued.

Trusts were also set up for Mrs Brown’s Boys actors Daniel O’Carroll, who plays Buster Brady, and his wife, Amanda Woods, who plays Betty Brown, but the couple never made use of the scheme, says the paper of the leaked documents.

The tax scheme involved the actors being able to charge certain expenses to credit cards issued by AfrAsia Bank in Mauritius, in relation to expenses incurred from their work as “investment consultants” to their own trusts. Expenditure on the cards was then cleared with the money in the offshore funds.

The leaked papers show that in a 2013 application form for his US dollar credit card, Houlihan gave his annual income as €600,000. Houlihan told The Irish Times the funds deposited offshore were connected to his stage work for Mrs Brown’s Boys and not to the TV programmes.

He said he was also speaking on behalf of the other two actors. He also said it was always his understanding that the loans would eventually be repaid, and tax paid on the money in the funds when it was transferred from the trusts to the actors.

The actors also earned substantial sums from the TV show, which is produced by the BBC in association with RTÉ and BOC-Pix Ltd, and from DVD sales, repeats of the programme, and the sale of episodes worldwide. The paper reported Mr Houlihan as saying this money was paid and taxed in the usual way.

Mrs Browns actors used offshore trust
Jimmy Carr

The scheme was run by English accountant Roy Lyness. Mr Lyness was behind the K2 tax used by comedian Jimmy Carr in 2012 which generated a huge scandal for which Mr Carr subsequently apologised.

Lyness was in the news in 2012 in relation to a tax scheme called K2, which was used by the broadcaster and comedian Jimmy Carr, and caused a huge scandal in the UK. The paper says the Mauritian scheme was not used by Brendan O’Carroll or his wife Jennifer, who both star in the Mrs Brown’s Boys productions and own the business.

The funds that were transferred to Mauritius were part of the income the agency that represented the three actors, an English company incorporated in 2012 called Pro Fid Ltd, was paid for the actors’ work on stage productions of the award-winning comedy, according to Houlihan.

Brendan O’Carroll said he was assured at the time by Lyness that the scheme was legal. What happened afterwards to the money paid by his company to Pro Fid was not his responsibility, he said. He said neither “myself, my wife, or any company associated with Mrs Brown’s Boys are now or ever have been involved in any tax avoidance scheme.”

The couple live in Florida, in the US. The three actors live in Dublin.

The Paradise Papers

  • The Paradise Papers are a set of 13.4 million documents relating offshore investment originating from specialist offshore lawyers, Appleby, Estera and Asiaciti Trust.
  • They contain the names of more than 120,000 people and companies including the Queen, Bono, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and some of the cast of Brendan O’Carroll’s Mrs Brown’s Boys comedy.
  • The amount of money estimated to be involved in total is $10 trillion.
  • The leaked documents were obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, including the UK’s The Guardian, Ireland’s The Irish Times, Germany’s Suddeutsche Zeitung, and BBC TV’s Panorama.
  • All published the Panama Papers in 2015 highlighting similar tax arrangements for politicians, business people and corporations.
  • Companies and individuals are alleged to have legally avoided paying billions in tax in the countries in which they make their profits.

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