Revenue carrying out ‘work’ on Siteserv fallout after judge called for tax investigation

Garda review of the 1,545-page report continues but no clarity on whether public bodies will take further action

The Revenue Commissioners are carrying out “work” on the fallout from the Siteserv deal, nine months after a High Court judge recommended an investigation into tax issues uncovered in his mammoth report on the affair.

The tax authority is one of several public bodies still scrutinising Mr Justice Brian Cregan’s report on the €45 million sale of the building services group to Denis O’Brien in 2012.

The inquiry followed Dáil ructions over the €119 million loss incurred in the O’Brien deal by the State-owned Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, Siteserv’s main lender. The deal was based on “misleading and incomplete information” that Siteserv gave IBRC, the Cregan report found in September.

The controversy came to prominence again in recent days when the judge issued a final report on his eight-year commission of investigation, urging the Government to streamline how public inquiries are carried out.


That is not the end of the matter, however. In addition to Revenue scrutiny, a review by An Garda Síochána of the 1,545-page report continues. The findings went to the Insolvency Service of Ireland, which oversees personal bankruptcies, and Isle of Man regulators.

In each case, however, there is little clarity on whether public bodies will take further action in the light of the judge’s findings.

For example, the Garda said: “The report provided to us is still being assessed to see if any allegations meet a threshold for criminal investigation.”

Although the judge recommended Revenue investigation into several tax issues, the authority said it could not answer specific questions because of law precluding it from comment on any individual or business.

“The interim report was referred to Revenue following publication and is the subject of on-going work by Revenue,” the tax authority said.

In his report, the judge recommended investigation into tax matters related to Siteserv co-founders, Niall McFadden and Brian Harvey.

Also recommended for tax investigation were Boundary Equity Holdings, an Isle of Man entity Mr McFadden controlled, and Mine Developments, another Isle of Man company that was controlled at different times by Mr McFadden and Mr Harvey.

The judge also recommended Revenue investigation into matters relating Cathkin Holdings, the company Mr O’Brien used to buy Siteserv, and its subsidiary Cathkin Investments.

After finding Mr McFadden “did not disclose assets” to the official assignee in his 2013-2016 bankruptcy, the judge said the assignee “should consider issues arising” in light of his report.

The official assignee is a court officer to whom the ownership of the bankrupt’s property is transferred. In Mr McFadden’s case, the assignee was the Insolvency Service of Ireland.

Asked whether it had taken any action as a result of the Cregan report, the Insolvency Service of Ireland said: “We cannot comment on any administration that may be ongoing on particular bankruptcy estates.”

Similarly, there is little clarity on the response of the Isle of Man authorities. In December, the Corporate Enforcement Authority in Dublin referred Boundary Equity Holdings “accounting issues” to the Manx attorney general and Mine Developments matters to the island’s financial regulator.

Asked about the attorney general referral, the Manx government said: “The attorney general’s chambers referred the matter to the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority.”

For its part, the Manx regulator said it “has considered” the Siteserv report. “The matter remains under review and as such, it would not be appropriate to comment further at this stage,” the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority said.

“Should the authority elect to publicly disclose any information in relation to this matter, it will do so via the publication of a public notice on its website.”

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley is Current Affairs Editor of The Irish Times