Four senior executives from the Belfast office of international accountancy firm KPMG have been arrested on tax evasion charges.

KPMG acknowledged in a press release that four of its top executives in Northern Ireland were arrested Wednesday.

"Pending further information and enquiry, we can confirm that four partners in our Belfast office are on administrative leave. As the matter is ongoing, KPMG is not in a position to make any further comments at this stage," the company said in a news release.

The four men who were charged and released are:

  • Jon D'Arcy.
  • Eamonn Donaghy.
  • Arthur O'Brien.
  • Paul Holloway.

New criminal offences that allow charges against people who help clients with tax evasion came into effect in the U.K. last March.

It is not known if the alleged offences relate to the personal income tax files or to business they may have done with wealthy clients.

KPMG has been leading a campaign to persuade the British Treasury to grant Northern Ireland special corporation tax status. It also advises many U.K. businesses.

CRA alleges KPMG 'tax scam'

Meanwhile in Canada, KPMG is fighting the Canada Revenue Agency over tax arrangements that allegedly hide money for wealthy clients.

The CRA alleges KPMG has used "deceptive practices" that hide the money of wealthy clients in Canada..

In February 2013, a federal court judge ordered KPMG to turn over a list of multimillionaire clients who placed their fortunes in an Isle of Man tax shelter scheme created by the accountancy firm. KPMG is fighting that court order and has yet to identify the wealthy people involved.

The case is scheduled to return to court in 2016.

Legal action against the firm for violations of tax laws and links to tax shelters have been mounting in recent years.

Files leaked from Luxembourg earlier this year show KPMG among the advisers of some multinationals who have successfully shifted money to the low-tax region.

In 2005, the firm paid fines in the U.S. of $456 million US for creating illegal tax shelters to help rich clients avoid tax.