Belfast Telegraph

Belgian tax evader's firm gets go-ahead for Dublin student flats

A company linked to convicted Belgian tax evader Didier De Witte has been granted planning permission for a multi-million euro, 317-bed student accommodation project in Dublin
A company linked to convicted Belgian tax evader Didier De Witte has been granted planning permission for a multi-million euro, 317-bed student accommodation project in Dublin

By John Mulligan

A company linked to convicted Belgian tax evader Didier De Witte has been granted planning permission for a multi-million euro, 317-bed student accommodation project in Dublin.

Molaga Capital has secured approval for the scheme from the Republic's planning authority, An Bord Plenala.

The scheme will be located on the South Circular Road on a site that was formerly the location of the Rialto Cinema.

Mr De Witte was sentenced in February to a year in prison and fined €240,000 (£205,566) in Belgium for reportedly channelling more than €1m (£860,000) from what was ostensibly a non-profit firm controlled by him, to his own bank account without declaring it for income tax.

An appeal ruling in that case is due next month.

He was a director of Molaga Capital from last year until September this year. One of the other directors of the firm is the former chief financial officer of the Cork-based Ditchley Group, Greg McGinn.

Mr McGinn acts as Mr De Witte's agent in Ireland.

Thomas De Witte, understood to be Didier De Witte's son, was appointed a director of Molaga in September.

Didier De Witte was also convicted in 2011 of collecting tens of thousands of euro in job-seeking benefits from the Belgian authorities between 2005 and 2009.

Mr De Witte was living in the Dominican Republic at the time and is still domiciled there. He owns hotels in the Caribbean country. His shares in Molaga Capital are listed as being held by a nominee who is employed by the Cork-based Ditchley Group.

Ditchley or the Inua Partnership of which it's a part, are not connected in any way to De Witte's activities in Ireland.

Earlier this year Greg McGinn said he had been working with Didier De Witte in Ireland for between 10 and 15 years and the Belgian businessman had always been "very honourable and direct".

However, he described Mr De Witte as being a "bit of a maverick in terms of tax structuring".

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