Belfast Telegraph

Paradise Papers: Invest NI knew that Northern Ireland firm give away £4m building for just £1

Invest NI has confirmed that it was aware of the tax arrangements of a Co Antrim company that gave away a building worth millions of pounds to a trust.

It comes as the BBC's Nolan Show revealed that Springfarm Architectural Mouldings Ltd handed over a building valued at £4 million to a trust in Mauritius for £1 in order to avoid paying UK tax.

The company said it has fully complied with its obligations to HMRC and there will be no loss to the UK exchequer as a result of its involvement with Mauritian companies.

The revelations came from documents leaked as part of the Paradise Papers.

Springfarm Architectural Mouldings Ltd, a manufacturer of internal and external MDF architectural mouldings, is run by Sam McCrea - who was awarded an MBE in 2000 for services to small businesses - and his wife Julienne McCrea.

Lawyers for the McCreas said they would not go into "the sensitive and confidential funding arrangements of their business with the BBC".

"Our clients have fully complied with their obligations to HMRC, specifically with regards to Mauritian companies. They also say that there will be no loss to the UK exchequer as a result of the Mauritian companies," the statement said.

They said the BBC allegations around ownership of the trust were "untrue, defamatory and are particularly unpleasant slurs on two people who have brought prosperity and employment to the Antrim area" and that "Mr McCrea holds a public honour for his services to business and he guards his reputation carefully".

Taxpayer-owned Invest NI is a shareholder in Springfarm Architectural Mouldings Ltd and supported its development.

It was aware of the tax arrangement but said it was a matter for the company and the tax authorities. Invest NI said the company was growing and meeting its repayment schedule.

A spokeswoman for Invest NI said: "Our assistance depends on the viability of the business and the total value added to the NI economy.

"As part of our project monitoring and approval procedures of Springfarm Architectural Mouldings Ltd we were aware of the property transfer in question and this was taken into consideration when approving its most recent project.

"Springfarm Architectural Mouldings Ltd has continued to grow in terms of both exports and employment targets and is meeting the agreed repayment schedule for the preference shares. A company’s tax planning is a matter between it and HMRC.

"If it transpires that information provided to us as part of our approval process has been misleading and would have resulted in a different decision being made, we will review the specific case, as would be normal practice."

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