‘Mislaid’ IBRC minutes raise more questions, claims Murphy

Independent TD to discuss terms of reference for IBRC inquiry with Government

IBRC minutes, which the Department of Finance said had been mislaid, were published on Wednesday and show the writedown applied to Siteserv was €119 million.

IBRC minutes, which the Department of Finance said had been mislaid, were published on Wednesday and show the writedown applied to Siteserv was €119 million.

 

Independent TD Catherine Murphy said ‘mislaid’ minutes from the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) meeting which approved the sale of Siteserv raise new concerns.

The minutes, which the Department of Finance said had been mislaid, were published on Wednesday and show the writedown applied to Siteserv was €119 million.

Denis O’Brien’s Millington bought Siteserv in March 2012 for €48 million, with €5 million of this going to Siteserv shareholders.

An unsuccessful bidder, Altrad, said soon afterwards it had been willing to offer €60 million for the construction services firm.

Ms Murphy said on Friday that to date, people had been told the writedown was €100 million, whereas the minutes show it was higher.

She added the minutes show that Richard Woodhouse, IBRC’s then head of asset management in the sale of Siteserv, was in attendance. Mr Wodehouse was responsible for the bank’s dealings with Mr O’Brien.

Mr Dukes has told The Irish Times Mr Woodhouse played absolutely no role in the process to sell Siteserv but was at the board meeting as head of that section of the bank.

He had confirmed two details in relation to the sale, one of which was a confirmation from an outside agency, Virgo Capital, that the process had been fair. He had also answered a query in relation to Robert Dix, a non-executive director of Siteserv.

Ms Murphy said she planned to meet with the Government over the coming days to discuss the terms of reference for the Commission of Investigation into the IBRC but described herself as broadly happy with them.

She said she wanted the inquiry to be credible and independent. She said it was important the decisions made by IBRC be view in the correct historical context.

Separately, the Opposition is to request the Commission of Investigation into the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) produce findings by October because of concerns about a possible early general election.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan is to consult Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and Independents over the scope of the investigation into IBRC, formerly Anglo Irish Bank.

Mr Noonan has said the commission should issue a report by the end of December, but this has caused concern because of speculation over a possible autumn election.

The Opposition parties are to meet Mr Noonan on Monday, and Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil are expected to request that a report, or an interim report, be published in October.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams described the existing timeframe as “unacceptable” because the Dáil will not be sitting in the period when the final report is due to issue.

“There is also understandable concern that there may be an election called between now and December 31st,” Mr Adams said.

On Wednesday Mr Noonan announced that a commission of investigation was being set up to upgrade the existing inquiry into IBRC’s sale of Siteserv to a company controlled by Denis O’Brien.

As well as IBRC transactions that resulted in a loss of at least €10 million, the commission’s terms of reference include any cases where significant interest rate deals were done with IBRC borrowers on preferential terms.

The terms for the new commission already include issues raised by Ms Murphy in the Dáil last week.

Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin yesterday called for the commission to examine corporate governance issues and conflicts of interest as well as the bank’s relationship with the Department of Finance and its loan practices.

Minutes of IBRC board meetings from the time of the Siteserv sale in March 2012 released by the Department of Finance show the total amount written off by the State following the sale of Siteserv was €119 million, some €9 million more than previously estimated.

Fresh correspondence released to The Irish Times under freedom-of-information legislation underline significant tensions between the department and IBRC at the time as well as fundamental disagreements over the management of the bank.

In his first public response to the controversy, Taoiseach Enda Kenny insisted yesterday there was “no evidence of wrongdoing” while saying the commission was the right thing to do.

Both IBRC chairman Alan Dukes and chief executive Mike Aynsley said he was excluded from the Siteserv decision-making process. However, the minutes of the board meeting show he was present.