Taxman's zero tolerance leaves Target Express drivers in state of limbo
Bust haulage firm Target Express could be followed by other firms in being pursued by tax officials on both sides of the border, a legal expert has warned.
Target Express founder, Fermanagh man Seamus McBrien, maintains that his firm paid €1m (£791,000) to the Revenue Commissioners in the past six to eight weeks and another €214,000 (£169,000) last Monday.
The Derrylin businessman claimed that another €80,000 (£63,000) was ordered by Wednesday and that his account was frozen last Thursday, despite the money being promised by Friday.
The company was set to be wound up in Northern Ireland by HM Revenue and Customs, but the Revenue Commissioners in the Republic acted first.
Accountancy and consultancy firm Grant Thornton offered to hold meetings with employees in the Republic after workers held a sit-in at a depot in Cork and protests at the headquarters depot in Mulhuddart, north Dublin.
Staff said they would stay until they received assurances about unpaid wages, holiday payments and redundancy entitlements.
“The provisional liquidators will engage with staff of Target Express to ensure their terms and conditions of employment with regard to minimum notice period, documentation and redundancy are dealt with in line with statutory guidelines,” the joint liquidators Steve Tennant and Michael McAteer, of Grant Thornton, said.
They will oversee disposal of assets from the Target Express holding company College Freight in the Republic. Separate moves are expected in the Belfast courts to deal with the Northern Ireland division of College Freight.
Laurence Spencer, of Pinsent Masons law firm in Belfast, said large firms on both sides of the border should not ignore tax-paying.
“I think we will see more of this type of action from the revenue authorities in Ireland and by HMRC in the UK,” he said.
“The taxman is the one creditor that you do not ignore, and the authorities are perhaps even more aggressive in the UK.”
He added that HMRC in the UK is now classed as an “unsecure creditor” rather than a “preferential creditor”, which the Revenue Commissioners in Ireland remain.
Meanwhile a worker for Target Express called for politicians to get “back from their holidays” and support workers stuck in limbo with no employment.