Ex-IBRC chair defends sale of Siteserv
FORMER IBRC bank chairman, Alan Dukes, has insisted “nothing untoward” will be found in a review of the controversial €45m sale of the company Siteserv.
In a special hour-long press conference in Dublin today, Mr Dukes said he “deeply resented and was scandalised” by any suggestion of “criminality” being involved in the 2012 deal which opposition politicians say cost taxpayers €105m.
“It suggests to me we’re getting very near the ‘Theatre of the Absurd’,” Mr Dukes said.
The former Fine Gael leader and Finance Minister said he believed that the Finance Department was seeking to influence the operation of IBRC bank. But the senior civil servants also wanted to stay back from the situation in case things went wrong and the officials could be blamed.
“That is not unusual in my long experience,” he said.
Mr Dukes, said contrary to recent reports, the Finance Department was kept informed of developments at the old Anglo Irish Bank at all stages.
He insisted every effort was made to ensure a best return for the taxpayer and correct procedures were upheld throughout all transactions, including the sale of Siteserv to the Millington company owned by businessman, Denis O’Brien.
“We didn’t just have belt and braces. We had belt and braces and safety pins as well,” he told reporters.
Mr Dukes said the sale of Sitserv was fully above board and went to the best bidder in Denis O’Brien. He said the bank had “cut out” an official who had been dealing with Mr O’Brien’s previous business and appointed a different person to keep a watching brief on the Siteserv sale.
Replying to questions on the €5m controversial payment to the Siteserv shareholders, at a time when the company was bust, he said the IBRC board did not like it. But their advice was that it was necessary to allow the deal go through.
Mr Dukes revealed that former Finance Department secretary general, John Moran, sought to join the IBRC board but his request was rejected due to a potential conflict of interest.
He added that relations between IBRC and the Finance Department had deteriorated after Mr Moran took over at the department.
But Mr Dukes also said that “despite a tough meeting” with Michael Noonan – a man who like him was also a Fine Gael leader – relations remained good personally.
“He re-appointed me – he could have fired me on the spot,” Mr Dukes said.
And Mr Dukes also signalled that he is not planning any immediate legal action saying his holding the press conference at a solicitor’s office was coincidental. The solicitor was a friend and he did not himself have an office in Dublin.