Panama Papers the Irish connection: Arms trading and off-shore companies

A company with a listed address in residential north-Dublin has been linked to the international scandal...

Panama Papers the Irish connection: Arms trading and off-shore companies

Remy de la Mauviniere / AP

Over 300 companies in Ireland have been linked to the so-called 'Panama Papers' release which details secret off-shore accounts linked to some of the world's most prominent politicians, celebrities, and sports stars.

The Irish Times helped the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) with the story - it reports that the documents show that Intertrade Projects Consultants Ltd, a company with a registered address on Botanic Avenue in Drumcondra, north-Dublin, acted as a sales agent for customers which included one of the world’s largest aerospace and defence conglomerates.

The company is also showed to have entered into subagency agreements with offshore companies which it shared sales commissions with. The IT report notes that these structures are considered controversial in the arms sector as they have a "potential to facilitate bribery."

It is unclear who owns the company or how much it has earned - the identities of the owners of the offshore companies that it worked with are also unknown, but in one instance an agreement related to an arms sales in India was signed by an Indian national who has been linked to corrupt sales, according to the report.

Finmeccanica jet

Intertrade Projects Consultants' clients include an Italian firm, Finmeccanica which is one of the world's largest aerospace and defence conglomerates. It deals in military aircraft, torpedoes, and electronic warfare equipment.

The company is 30% owned by the Italian government and is one of the country's largest employers.

It faces bribery allegations in India and Panama - but nothing in the leaked documents suggests that Intertrade is linked to these scandals or any corruption or improper payments.

Accounts filed by Intertrade in Dublin show that the company is controlled by Claudio Piccinin, a citizen from the Philippines with an address in Manila. He told the Irish Times that he is not in an "informed opinion" as to whether offshore companies engaging in arms deals creates transparency problems.

Intertrade Projects Consultants is 19 years old, and has one shareholder.

Pegasus

There is a second involved in the leak, Pegasus Trust, which is also based on Botanic Avenue in Dublin.

It offers corporate services and is shown to have acted as an intermediatory between Intertrade and Mossack Fonseca - the law firm in Panama at the centre of the Panama Papers.

There are 360 different companies with links to Ireland mentioned in the documents, a third of these are represented by Pegasus Trust.

The firm told The Irish Times that these clients are historical and that no new clients have been taken on in over a decade.

“The services we provided to these companies, and to Intertrade specifically, were of a company secretarial/administrative nature. We had no decision-making role in any of these companies, including Intertrade,” the company added.

Colm Keena is The Irish Times Public Affairs Editor, he worked on the ICIJ project and joined Newstalk Breakfast to discuss the leak which NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has described as the biggest leak in the history of data journalism.

He explained how "these sort of activities are legal... However, one of the big attractions of offshore is that it provides massive amounts of secrecy... it might be legal but embarrassing."