The Irish National Lottery has found itself at the center of a controversy stemming from a claim of a previous lotto winner that the agency gave him advice on how to avoid tax.
Lotto boss Dermot Griffin took a defensive stance on Tuesday amid calls from Senator Kevin Humphreys for the state tax revenue agency to investigate whether or not the National Lottery helped people to defraud Ireland’s tax system.
The National Lottery was dragged into the issue after lottery winner Mary Walsh, who won €3.4 million (US$3.62 million), claimed that the firm running the National Lottery advised her at the time of her win that getting family members to sign the ticket would mean she could avoid gift tax.
Speaking to the Irish Sun, the National Lottery insisted that its claims procedure was “in accordance with our statutory and regulatory obligations.”
It pointed out that the National Lottery does not provide professional financial advice directly to winners but recommends that they seek appropriate and independent advice.
“We take them through what they need to think about. We would say, ‘Naturally there’s tax implications on your win. And it’s not just the win, its investments then, deposit interest, think about tax or whatever,” National Lottery chief Dermot Griffin said, according to the report.
He further explained that Lotto staff provide winners with a list of financial advisers, but picking taxation advisers, accountants or lawyers remains in the hands of the winners.
“And, again, if they didn’t have help already, we would normally give them a list (of financial advisers), we would normally recommend that they go and talk to just not one, but to talk to a number of them — to see what ones they are comfortable with — and then take them on,” he said. “So our job is being able to point them in the right directions in terms of more specialist advice. That’s the role we fulfil. We don’t pay for their advisers. That’s naturally something they have to select themselves.”