Siteserv investigation to cost State €100m, says key figure

Former IBRC boss Mike Aynsley says ‘30-plus’ lawyers working at inquiry

According to former IBRC chief executive, Mike Aynsley, the inquiry’s spiralling legal costs could leave taxpayers with a €100 million bill once the commission has finished its work.

According to former IBRC chief executive, Mike Aynsley, the inquiry’s spiralling legal costs could leave taxpayers with a €100 million bill once the commission has finished its work.

 

Taxpayers face a potential €100 million bill for the investigation of the sale of building services group Siteserv to a Denis O’Brien-owned company, a leading figure in the row claims.

A commission headed by Mr Justice Brian Cregan is investigating the sale of Siteserv to the Denis O’Brien-controlled Millington in 2012 for €45.54 million.

State-owned Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) wrote off a €110 million loan to the company following the deal.

According to a statement from former IBRC chief executive Mike Aynsley, the inquiry’s spiralling legal costs could leave taxpayers with a bill of up to €100 million bill once the commission has finished its work. He claims that there are “30-plus” lawyers now working at the commission.

Mr Aynsley argues that the real question is the motivation and sources of the allegations that the commission is investigating.

He says that he hopes inquiry will also examine this and report to the taxpayers who are shouldering the cost.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Dáil last week that the Government believed the investigation would cost between €20 million and €25 million.

He also confirmed that he refused a request from MR Justice Cregan late last year to double fees paid to its lawyers, who earn €788.27 a day if they are senior counsel and €394.14 if they are juniors.

The IBRC took over defunct lenders Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society, inheriting debts due to them from enterprises linked to several high-profile business figures.

A dispute blew up ahead of the Siteserv deal when it emerged that French utility Altrad had indicated that it was willing to pay up to €60 million for the building services group.

However, Siteserv’s board pointed out that the Altrad offer was conditional while Millington had made a firm commitment to pay the sum that it offered.

Questions were raised about the deal several years later when it emerged that a Siteserv subsidiary was one of a number of companies awarded contracts to fit water meters.

Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy was one of those who made claims in the Dáil relating to the deal.

The Government did not respond to questions regarding Mr Aynsley’s claims. The commission of investigation did not comment on Tuesday.