Judge grants order overturning dissolution of Siteserv

Sale of firm by IBRC to a company is being investigated by commission of inquiry

A commission is inquiring into 38 transactions involving IBRC where there were write-offs of €10 million or more on loans. The transactions include the sale of contracting firm Siteserv to Denis O’Brien’s company, Millington, with a write-off of some €119 million. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

A commission is inquiring into 38 transactions involving IBRC where there were write-offs of €10 million or more on loans. The transactions include the sale of contracting firm Siteserv to Denis O’Brien’s company, Millington, with a write-off of some €119 million. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

A High Court judge has overturned an order dissolving Siteserv, the firm whose sale by State-owned IBRC to a company controlled by businessman Denis O’Brien is being investigated by a commission of inquiry.

Mr Justice Michael White was told the application for the order voiding the dissolution was being made by Kieran Wallace, in his capacity as liquidator of Siteserv and following a request of Judge Brian Cregan, who is heading the commission of inquiry.

The commission is inquiring into 38 transactions involving IBRC where there were write-offs of €10 million or more on loans. The transactions include the sale of contracting firm Siteserv to Mr O’Brien’s company, Millington, with a write-off of some €119 million.

Rossa Fanning BL, for Mr Wallace, said Siteserv was placed in liquidation in July 2012 and Mr Wallace, as liquidator, had progressed and concluded the liquidation to the dissolution of the company on August 6th, 2015.

‘Unusual circumstances’

The application to void the dissolution arose in “somewhat unusual circumstances”, counsel said.  For reasons beyond the scope of this application, there was a “degree of public controversy” in relation to the sale by IBRC of some loans at a discount.

Among the transactions being investigated by Judge Cregan was that involving Siteserv, counsel said.

In a letter of November 17th from solicitors for the commission to solicitors for Mr Wallace, it was stated the commission had expected to be in a position to write to Siteserv and receive responses from that firm concerning certain matters.

It had also expected to be in a position to issue directions, including discovery type directions. 

The fact Siteserv has been dissolved means there is no corporate entity to whom such directions can be made, the letter said.

 “In the circumstances, we would have thought that it was abundantly clear that the dissolution of the company could have an adverse effect on the workings of the commission.”

The letter added the commission was of the view Mr Wallace should apply urgently to the High Court “as soon as possible and in any event within two weeks” to have the company restored to the registrar.

Access to all documents

The letter also noted Mr Wallace was prepared to make the relevant application and was also willing to give the commission access to all documents in his possession pursuant to a direction from the commission which would be prepared.

Today, Mr Fanning told Mr Justice White the appropriate application was not to have the company restored but rather to have the dissolution order voided, and that was what Mr Wallace was seeking.

Mr Fanning said Mr Wallace had retained all the company’s documents after its liquidation in 2012 and was happy to provide those to, and fully co-operate with, the commission.

Mr Wallace was also happy to make the court application as requested by the judge and had initiated it within the two-week period specified, counsel added.

Counsel said Mr Wallace wished to stress this application related to his capacity as liquidator of Siteserv, which firm was placed in liquidation prior to the special liquidation of IBRC.

‘Very important’

That was a “very important” point because, while Mr Wallace has two capacities in that he is also one of the two IBRC special liquidators, he was making this application solely as liquidator of Siteserv, counsel said.

Mr Justice White said he was satisfied to grant an order, under Section 708 of the Companies Act 2014 and the relevant court rules, declaring the order dissolving Siteserv is void.

The judge noted there was no objection to that application by the registrar of Companies or Revenue Commissioners.