Siteserv: No ‘evidence of wrongdoing’ behind inquiry

Noonan review to examine all IBRC deals which lost State €10 million

Minister of State at the Department of Finance Simon Harris insisted the Government was “not initiating this on the basis of any evidence of wrongdoing”. Photograph:   Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times.

Minister of State at the Department of Finance Simon Harris insisted the Government was “not initiating this on the basis of any evidence of wrongdoing”. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times.

 

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

Ministers are also leaving open the possibility of further investigations or changes in the law once the initial review of deals costing the taxpayer more than €10 million is complete.

The full report into deals struck by the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), formerly Anglo Irish Bank, is to be completed by end of the summer.

The review will be undertaken by Kieran Wallace and Eamon Richardson of KPMG, the IBRC liquidators, following controversy over the deal for Siteserv, which was sold to businessman Denis O’Brien for €45 million in 2012, with a loss to the State of €105 million.

While KPMG has already completed a report on Siteserv, Government figures said the special liquidators were best positioned to carry out the new review.

Concern

The liquidators will also be able to review any other deals that may be of concern.

The findings, due by August 31st, will be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Minister of State at the Department of Finance Simon Harris insisted the Government was “not initiating this on the basis of any evidence of wrongdoing” but was reacting to public concern.

“This isn’t ruling out further actions or further enquires if they are needed,” Mr Harris said. “If there is a need for legislative change we will look at it.”

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the review, set up by Minister for Finance Michael Noonan, was the incorrect response and called for a commission of investigation, as did Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams.

“What is needed here is an independent investigation by someone at full arm’s length from the process and completely detached from IBRC, Siteserv and the Department of Finance,” Mr Martin said.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny had initially raised the prospect of the Comptroller and Auditor General carrying out the investigation, but accepted this approach was not possible.

Speaking at the Public Accounts Committee yesterday, Comptroller and Auditor General Séamus McCarthy said he had no power to examine the sale of Siteserv.

Former IBRC chairman Alan Dukes is scheduled to give a press conference later today on the Siteserv controversy.

Mr Dukes has contradicted the Government’s account of how it dealt with concerns over Mr O’Brien’s acquisition of Siteserv.

In a statement, the Department of Finance said the review was being initiated in light of “recent concerns raised before the Houses of the Oireachtas”.