Opening Bell: PwC in historic lawsuit, FBD fears new bail-in rules, Retail Ireland fears consumer uncertainty

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The Dublin unit of a US hedge fund with $8 billion in assets paid just €125 in corporation tax last year.

Dublin firm Burlington Loan Management, which was set up during the crash, was structured so that its profits would be wiped out by interest repayments to entities abroad which have links to US hedge fund Davidson Kempner.

Accounts for Burlington – which owns diverse assets such as stakes in failed Icelandic banks and loans secured on the Titanic Quarter in Belfast – show that it had practically no taxable income in 2015.

With $192 million in “investment income” and roughly $500 million in “gains on derivative contracts”, it ended up with taxable income of $375, the same as 2014.

Burlington is a Section 110 special purpose vehicle (SPV) – structures that met with controversy recently following Dáil allegations that they facilitate wholesale tax avoidance by so-called "vulture funds".

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Ireland's largest professional services firm PwC is being sued for a record €4.9 billion for failing to detect fraud that led to a bank collapse during the global financial crisis.

The biggest ever case against an auditing firm could see more firms brought into the firing line. It was filed in a Miami court on behalf of a trustee of defunct mortgage  underwriter Taylor, Bean & Whitaker.

It accuses PwC of failing to catch a multibillion-dollar conspiracy between company founder Lee Farkas and Colonial Bank executives.

PwC had given the bank's parent a clean audit opinion every year from 2002 to 2008. Colonial collapsed in 2009, becoming the sixth-largest US bank failure in history.

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Retail Ireland has warned against measures that would impose extra costs on businesses and employment, including increasing the minimum wage.

The main group representing Irish retailers is also calling on the Government to cut taxes and increase public spending in the next Budget.

It says that consumer unease caused by the sterling's sharp decline since the Brexit vote is putting pressure on the retail sector.

New figures from Retail Ireland shows that although sales values grew by 2.8% in the first half of the year, the sector is starting to lose its positive momentum.

Director of Retail Ireland, Thomas Burke, has said that if the trend of consumer uncertainty continues, it could have serious implications for the sector.

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The insurer FBD has switched over €150 million of its investments to corporate bonds over the past year.

The move has been fuelled by the low returns offered by banks and the fear that new bail-in rules could see it lose money.

Chief executive Fiona Muldoon told the Irish Independent that the extremely low returns being offered on term deposits, along with fears that new rules introduced by the EU this year could expose bank bondholders and depositors to bailing out a failed lender, has resulted in investments away from banks.

The new bail-in mechanism is designed to prevent taxpayers being liable for bailing out collapsed lenders. This leaves bondholders and customers with over €100,000 on deposit at risk of footing the bill.