Belfast accountancy executives launch legal challenges over searches

The KPMG offices in Belfast

The KPMG offices in Belfast

Four former executives at accountancy firm KPMG involved in an investigation into suspected tax evasion have launched a legal challenge over searches of their homes and offices in Belfast.

Eamonn Donaghy, Jon D’Arcy, Paul Hollway and Arthur O’Brien are seeking to judicially review HM Revunue and Customs’ handling of the probe.

The four partners in the firm’s Belfast operation were reportedly arrested last November, but have not been charged with any wrongdoing.

At the time KPMG said it was cooperating with the investigation and had placed the men on “administrative leave”.

In February this year the company announced that the partners in its Belfast office subject to the HMRC probe had retired.

KPMG stressed the inquiry related solely to the executives’ personal affairs and was unrelated to the company’s business or its clients.

The legal action was due to get underway at the Northern Ireland High Court today.

But a panel of senior judges were told the four men want to amend a case featuring a challenge to search warrants at their homes to also include offices.

Their counsel, Barry Macdonald QC, said: “The amendment is made in relation to a search of business premises in circumstances where the applicants themselves have not been present when the searches were carried out.

“They were present at their homes when the searches were carried out.”

A new statement from a witness dealing with what happened at those premises is set to be lodged.

Granting permission to file the affidavit, Lord Justice Gillen listed the case for a further hearing next month.