Successive governments have concluded in a massive vat scam in the poultry and possibly the beef sector that has deprived the exchequer of hundreds of millions of euro

Anna Kavanagh

In August and September 2019 Alo Mohan, Seamus Maye and myself were part of a team who travelled around the country speaking at events organised by farmers who succeeded in blockading the beef factories around the country for six weeks over unsustainable prices.

Night after night Alo addressed the meetings telling the story of how his refusal to engage in massive vat fraud had resulted in the closure of his very successful poultry business in County Cavan and the intimidation he and his family received when he turned whistleblower and reported the matter to Revenue.

Alo is a former Chairman of the IFA Poultry Committee and was awarded the FBD Trust Nuffield Scholarship that funded his research in Europe and the United States on the effects of removing CO2 from poultry housing through indirect heating.

The 5 page exclusive in today’s Mail on Sunday adds very little to what Alo has been saying for several years except that Michael O’Farrell has succeeded in getting documentation under freedom of information that supports what Alo has been saying.

There’s speculation that a similar vat fraud could be operating in massive beef feedlots housing thousands of cattle that are run by the likes of Larry Goodman owned companies.

Alo worked alongside Marian Harkin when she was an MEP to made an official complaint in 2016 about the practice to the EU’s director general for finance which was not challenged by then finance minister, Michael Noonan. Legislation was introduced in January 2017, and the EU commission was satisfied that this anti-competitive measure which contravenes EU law was resolved.

The legislation has never been enforced and there’s fears that Ireland could be facing massive fines from Europe.

Neither Noonan nor his successors have used this legislation to shut down the VAT abuses.

In September 2019, Alo and his accountant, Kieran Lynch who also addressed the farm meetings during the factory blockades, wrote a letter to Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe, in which they said the Government had failed to address or seek redress in any meaningful way’.

In November 2019, Revenue chairman Niall Cody appeared before the Dáil Public Accounts Committee and admitted, “There is no doubt that, within the poultry sector, the pricing structure allowed for an overcompensation of the VAT for some people who are in that trade. Cody told the committee Revenue had conducted a detailed report to establish if there was overcompensation in the poultry sector and submitted it to the finance minister.

When Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín raised the tax abuses in the Dáil in 2021, he questioned Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue about what he described as the ‘VAT fraud’ and ‘illegal State aid’.

McConalogue refused to engage with Deputy Tóibín, saying it was not ‘appropriate’ to raise the matter on the floor of the House.

Meanwhile Alo Mohan has launched a case in the High Court against a number of state actors including Revenue. Alo has been overcoming attempts to block him from mounting a successful challenge to the vat fraud scheme.

Michael O’Farrell’s five page exclusive in today’s MoS should pave the way for easier access to justice through the courts for Alo which should ultimately ease the burden on taxpayers.

Anna Kavanagh is co-founder of M-Compass Media