Finance secretary general defended in IBRC row

Noonan denies snubbing property director McKillen

John Moran, secretary general of the Department of Finance

John Moran, secretary general of the Department of Finance


Department of Finance secretary general John Moran has been robustly defended by Minister of State Brian Hayes after property developer Paddy McKillen complained about the senior official.

Mr McKillen wrote to Minister for Finance Michael Noonan last month alleging “an inappropriate informality and familiarity between senior officials in your department” and a Barclay brothers executive.

The billionaire Barclay brothers have been battling Mr McKillen for control of three London luxury hotels and have made repeated bids to buy his €300 million in personal debt held by Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), formerly Anglo Irish Bank.

Documents seen by The Irish Times show Mr Moran emailed Richard Faber, who works for Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay, last October 28th, apologising for not having responded to him earlier that day.

‘At your disposal’
Mr Moran said he would copy the communication from Mr Faber, which was not released under the Freedom of Information Act, to two of his colleagues, who were more directly involved in the IBRC wind-down. “I leave it to them if it is appropriate to contact you or the bank in the first instance,” he said.

“In any event, I would mention that should you feel you are not making the right progress for whatever reason with IBRC, they remain at your disposal (as of course do I if you are unable to reach them).”

Mr Hayes yesterday said Mr Moran had acted “totally appropriately’’. He said Mr Moran passed the communication to the relevant people in the department, “and it was made clear that all commercial decisions were a matter for the IBRC”.

Mr Hayes, who was speaking to journalists at a Japanese festival in Farmleigh, Dublin, said he had full confidence in Mr Moran, adding that the secretary general appointed last year had been “a breath of fresh air’’ in the department.

He said it was also clear, from remarks made by Barclay representatives, that it was the only email sent by Mr Moran and no meeting with the secretary general was sought or obtained.

‘Stark contrast’
However, Mr McKillen’s letter to Mr Noonan referred to a “stark contrast in tone and content” between the department’s correspondence with Mr Faber and its correspondence with Mr McKillen, “which has been conducted on a strictly formal basis as normally expected of correspondence emanating from senior Government officials”.

The letter also claimed Mr McKillen’s requests for a meeting with departmental officials had been refused, while there seemed to be “an open door to your senior officials for Mr Faber”.

The Department of Finance’s reply contradicts this, stating that Mr McKillen had previously been facilitated in meeting officials. “It is not accepted any improper or inappropriate communication or contact took place between officials of this department and Mr Faber,” the letter states.

“Nor is it accepted that the tone and content of email exchanges to which you refer give rise to any legitimate basis for concern that there has been any lack of impartiality or inappropriate conduct on the part of this department.”

Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath called on Mr Noonan to clarify the nature of the “assistance” that Mr Moran was offering.