IBRC loan write-offs investigation granted further extension to October

Inquiry approaches sixth anniversary as final report into Siteserv deal delayed again

A workman removes the Anglo Irish Bank signage and lettering from its former head office in St Stephen’s Green Dublin in 2011. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

A workman removes the Anglo Irish Bank signage and lettering from its former head office in St Stephen’s Green Dublin in 2011. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

The State’s commission of investigation into loan write-offs at the former Anglo Irish Bank has been granted a further extension until October, a Government spokeswoman has said.

The commission, chaired by High Court judge Brian Cregan, was due to submit the final report from its first module to the Taoiseach at the end of this month but asked for a further extension.

The extension means that the investigation into Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) will be running for more than six years by the time that it publishes a final report on one of its investigative modules.

The commission was established in June 2015 by then taoiseach Enda Kenny to examine transactions where there was a loss of €10 million or more to the State-owned bank.

The first module has focused on the sale of building services company Siteserv, now called Actavo, to an Isle of Man company called Millington, controlled by businessman Denis O’Brien, for €45 million in 2012. The company had a loan of €119 million to IBRC written off in the deal.

The Government spokeswoman confirmed that the commission of investigation had written to the Taoiseach seeking an extension fo the publication of its final draft report.

“The Taoiseach has agreed for an extension until the end of October,” she said.

A draft version of the commission’s report into the Siteserv transaction is scheduled to be circulated to witnesses and other interested parties by mid-June.

The commission has repeatedly missed deadlines as its investigation into the 2012 transaction has dragged on. It has heard more than 250 days of evidence running to more than 40,000 pages of transcripts with more than 100 witness statements and more than 500,000 documents.

The investigation has already been given three extensions over the past 14 months for the submission of the report on the Siteserv transaction, a period during which its work has been significantly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Latest figures released by the Department of the Taoiseach to The Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act show that the cost of the commission had reached just over €9.4 million from 2015 to the end of February.

The commission has estimated that the cost of the Siteserv investigation will be between €12 million and €14.5 million but this estimate was based on this module ending as originally planned at the end of this month and excluded costs or delays associated with judicial review hearings.

The inquiry acknowledged that this estimate of costs carried with them “a substantial degree of uncertainty” regarding the costs recoverable by parties and was based on the assumption that the legal cost guidelines would not be successfully challenged.

The Department of the Taoiseach has said that the final cost of the commission could be in the order of €30 million. Aontú TD Peadar Tóibín suggested last year that the final bill could reach €70 million.

The Siteserv transaction is just one of 38 deals that could be examined by the inquiry given the number of transactions involving loan write-offs by IBRC in the wake of Anglo’s collapse.

Lawyers have been the biggest beneficiary of the investigation so far, with legal fees of €4.6 million being paid out in the first five and a half years of the commission’s work.

The commission has spent almost €1.6 million in pay in that time, €884,000 on office equipment and supplies, and €853,000 on office premises expenses, including €362,000 in rent. A further €72,000 has been spent on “postal and communications” and €15,800 on “travel and subsistence”.

Some €1.4 million has been spent on “incidental expenses, training and development.”