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Four top KPMG accountants arrested over alleged tax fraud

The four were detained by officers from HM Revenue and Customs on Wednesday in connection with what it said was "a suspected tax evasion" 
Gary McDonald, Business Editor

FOUR senior partners at the Belfast office of global accountancy firm KPMG have been arrested over an alleged tax fraud.

They were detained by officers from HM Revenue and Customs on Wednesday in connection with what it said was "a suspected tax evasion".

It is understood they include the Belfast operation's chairman Jon D'Arcy, who heads its audit and transaction services team, as well as the firm's tax practice head Eamonn Donaghy.

Mr Donaghy is also chairman of Grow NI, the umbrella group representing business, academic and voluntary organisations in the north committed to the devolution of corporation tax.

Also believed to have been detained are Paul Hollway, head of corporate finance at KPMG in Ireland, and Arthur O'Brien, who provided audit and advisory services to clients including the Policing Board.

The four men are known to have set up a private investment company in 2005 called JEAP, from the initials of their first names.

JEAP invested primarily in property, but from 2008 to 2010 racked up £2.8m in losses.

At the time KPMG said there was no conflict of interest in any of their investments.

It is not known if the current investigation relates to the activities of JEAP.

A spokesman for KPMG said: "We can confirm that representatives of HM Revenue and Customs have advised us that they are conducting an investigation and visited our Belfast office yesterday.  We are cooperating with that investigation.

"It is important to emphasise that we do not have any indication that this investigation relates to the business of KPMG or the business of our clients. Pending further information and enquiry, we can confirm that four partners in our Belfast office are on administrative leave. As the matter is on-going, KPMG is not in a position to make any further comment at this stage. “

A PSNI spokesman said on Wednesday night that police were aware of the development, but there were no criminal proceedings currently under way.

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