Siteserv: Dukes ‘angry’ at suggestion of criminality

Ex-IBRC chairman says he is ‘scandalised’ at suggestion of malpractice

Former IBRC chairman Alan Dukes said he is “extremely angry” the review of the Siteserv sale and other transactions conducted by the bank will seek evidence of criminality or malpractice.

The very fact that the possibility of criminality had been mentioned was “absolutely outrageous”, he told a press conference in Dublin.

Mr Dukes also confirmed then secretary general of the Department of Finance John Moran had asked to join the board of the IBRC, but this request had been refused by Mr Dukes because of a potential conflict of interest.

Mr Dukes said he does not know the precise list of transactions to be covered under the Government-commissioned IBRC review into transations worth more than €10 million, but that he was “happy” the review is taking place.


However, he said he is “scandalised”at the notion of the review seeking evidence of malpractice by IBRC, a State-owned bank set up to wind down the assets of Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide.

There were “no grounds for suggesting that”, he told the press conference .

Some people, he said, saw “conspiracy in their tea leaves”, adding he wished to say “in the strongest possible terms” that any such allegations were out of place.

He said he tried not be paranoid, adding that did not mean “they’re not out to get you”, to laughter from many of those present.

The Department of Finance, Mr Dukes added, had been kept updated on all aspects of the Siteserv deal.

Earlier, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said he asked for the review of IBRC transactions to consider all the trades in which the write-off was more than €10 million.

The Government last night moved to quell the Siteserv controversy by asking IBRC’s special liquidators, Kieran Wallace and Eamonn Richardson, to examine the 30 or so sales by IBRC valued over €10 million.

The sale of Siteserv for €45 million is controversial because the State incurred a loss of more than €100 million and the Siteserv shareholders were paid €5 million as part of the deal.

The Government has insisted it did not establish the review into deals struck by the former Anglo Irish Bank because of “any evidence of wrongdoing”.

The report is to be completed by the end of the summer.

Mr Noonan, speaking on RTÉ’s News at One, said the review would involve people with “special skills covering liquidation, contract law and forensic accounting” who would inquire into the issues but who would also consider two key points. These were “one, was there any malpractice, any criminal offences, and two, would what happened be considered to be sound business practices?”.

Mr Noonan said the report would be ready by August 31st and would be considered by him and brought to Government.

He said it would be then “fully opened for members of the Dáil” through the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which would scrutinise the review.

Mr Noonan said the special liquidators of IBRC had agreed to attend the PAC to answer questions.

This was a better approach, he said, than a tribunal of inquiry, which could have a lead-in of nine months and take 10 to 12 years to report.

He said the report would be carried out “properly by people who have the skill sets”, and then the investigation would come under the auspices of the of PAC.

He said he had never got any “evidence” of wrongdoing or that “anything improper happened”. He said he was satisfied the review would ensure “in the public interest that all issues were ventilated”.

“Let the chips fall where they will,” he said.

Mr Noonan said most of the issues with IBRC ran smoothly, but “this one didn’t run smoothly”.

He said the Freedom of Information documents showed “the department was doing its job” .

He said Anglo Irish Bank had required “€34 billion of taxpayers’ money” and the loss had been incurred.

“IBRC was selling insolvent companies for as much as they could” as it was the job of the liquidators to recover as much as possible.

He said he was “extremely frustrated” and “officials were frustrated” with the flow of information from IBRC, but a meeting cleared the air and it was decided to put an assistant secretary general into IBRC and “the flow of information improved”.

Mr Noonan said his predecessor would have had thoughts of liquidation as an option for dealing with the bank, and in time “liquidation was the best solution in the interests of the taxpayer”.

Mr Noonan added he had insisted in a provision in the review committee’s terms of reference that “there be no suggestion of conflicts of interest” in that personnel who advised on the deal would be brought in to review it.

“Nobody involved in the transaction will be involved in reviewing the transaction,” he said.

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is London Correspondent for The Irish Times