IBRC inquiry may narrow its focus to six biggest transactions

Enda Kenny to update Cabinet on feedback he received from Opposition leaders

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin TD, addresses the media with regard to new bankruptcy laws and the IBRC. Video: Mary Minihan

 

The commission of inquiry into write-offs by the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) may focus on the six biggest transactions, which led to a combined loss of almost €1 billion to the exchequer.

The inquiry may also investigate the Siteserv deal first, it has emerged.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny will update the Cabinet on Tuesday on the feedback he received from Opposition leaders on how to solve the problems with the investigation by Mr Justice Brian Cregan.

Government sources said it was unlikely a solution would be agreed at Tuesday’s meeting but was not ruling it out.

“There are a lot of things to be dealt with,” the source said. “The judge has asked for more resources and a possible second judge; there is a need for additional legislation; the terms of reference have to be examined too.

“So there is a lot to be discussed. This is not a small issue.”

Opposition leaders have proposed focusing on the six biggest write-offs by IBRC.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin said it was his belief the Siteserv deal should be examined first.

“I think there is a consensus on dealing with the more important issues first. I don’t want to say things are less important but the Siteserv issue is the first and most important issue,” he said on Monday. “I for one would be in favour of that being dealt with first.”

Senior Government sources said that could not be ruled out, but said the issue had yet to be discussed at Cabinet level.

Mr Justice Cregan has warned an investigation into all 38 transactions which led to a loss of more than €10 million to the State, as had been requested by the Government, would take “several years”.

He also said he does not have adequate powers to complete the task and needs legislative change to allow him continue. He has additionally asked for another judge to help him and for more resources to help with his inquiry.

Mr Justice Cregan also proposes prioritising a number of transactions that led to the largest write-offs, which he claims could be completed in less than two years.

The total value of the write-offs of all 38 transactions is €1.9 billon.

Six transactions involve write-offs greater than €100 million, the judge said. The combined total of these six transactions is about €859 million.