Report of judge’s inquiry into Siteserv sale cleared for publication

Document comes seven years after inquiry established to review sale of group to firm controlled by businessman Denis O’Brien

Attorney General Paul Gallagher has cleared for imminent publication the report of a judge’s inquiry into the Siteserv affair.

Mr Gallagher has been considering the report by Mr Justice Brian Cregan since he submitted the document to Taoiseach Micheál Martin in late July.

Mr Martin was preparing last night to bring the report to the Cabinet today in the expectation that it can be published very soon afterwards, according to an informed source.

The judge’s report comes seven years after a commission of inquiry was established to investigate the 2012 sale of building services group Siteserv to a company controlled by businessman Denis O’Brien. The €45 million sale came as the State-owned Irish Bank Resolution Corporation — the former Anglo Irish Bank — wrote off €119 million of the €150 million that Siteserv owed.

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No party has sought to challenge the Siteserv findings in the High Court prior to its submission to the Taoiseach. In an interim report during the summer, the judge said a number of parties made submissions to the commission on the draft conclusions, which under review prior to completion of the final document.


Read more on the Siteserv report


Mr Gallagher was required under laws underpinning the inquiry to determine whether publication would prejudice any criminal proceedings in progress or pending.

When the judge circulated draft conclusions to witnesses in May, he said the sale was based on “misleading and incomplete information” that Siteserv provided to IBRC. He criticised a process “below the surface” in which certain events occurred during the sale without IBRC’s knowledge. In addition, he said the transaction was “not concluded in a manner that was reasonable from the perspective of the bank”.

Political controversy

The Government has already extended until the end of October the time frame of the commission, which was established in June 2015 amid sustained political controversy over the Siteserv deal.

The Government previously said the commission “proposes to deal with cost applications” in the period to October and “report on the investigation of the other transactions”.

Siteserv was but the first of 38 separate transactions that were in focus when the inquiry was established, deals involved an aggregate €1.88 billion write-off from IBRC.

However, there is little political appetite to prolong the investigation. In the 2020 interim report, the judge acknowledged “significant, if not insuperable, difficulties” in relation to discovery and witness statements linked to 28 borrowers incorporated or resident outside the State.

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley is Current Affairs Editor of The Irish Times