Anglo probe won't be done before General Election
Emergency laws expected to extend inquiry's powers
Published 09/11/2015 | 02:30
The Commission of Investigation into IBRC has made "no contact whatsoever" with the company at the centre of the political storm, Siteserv, in the four months since it was set up.
A report on the controversial sale of assets and loans by the former Anglo Irish Bank will not now be completed by the General Election, if at all.
The Government believes there will be "no resistance" to introducing new laws as a way of salvaging the commission after the judge in charge suggested legal restrictions would make his final report irrelevant.
But Government sources conceded last night that the report would be significantly delayed.
The full report was initially due to be published by the end of the year, but Judge Brian Cregan wrote to the Taoiseach on Friday, outlining how issues of confidentiality and privilege meant the commission "is not in a position to proceed with its investigation into any of the relevant 'write-off' transactions".
The inquiry is probing 37 deals by the IBRC, including the sale of contracting firm Siteserv to Denis O'Brien's Millington.
The company was sold for €45.4m as part of a transaction that saw State-owned IBRC write off €110m of its debt.
A subsidiary of Siteserv, GMC/Sierra, went on to win a lucrative contract installing metres for Irish Water.
The sequence of events led to outrage from Opposition TDs, who called on the Government to investigate if IBRC got the best price for Siteserv.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan established the commission, saying he couldn't allow a perception to develop that the taxpayer lost out.
A Government source defended the delay in the process.
"The judge has decided that he needs more power if he's to do his job correctly," the source said, adding: "Whatever is needed by way of legislation to give the judge extra teeth will be done."
The Attorney General, Marie Whelan, has been asked to bring legal advice on the situation to the Cabinet tomorrow, with a view to legislation being introduced to the Dáil by the end of the week.
In his letter to Enda Kenny, Judge Cregan also indicated that he intends to provide an interim report "which will outline the work of the commission to date, the issues which have arisen and to seek an extension of time for the completion of the work of the commission".
Speaking in Enniskillen, Mr Kenny said: "The judge has made a determination from his perspective, completely independently."
He said he wanted the commission to be able do its work so that the transactions can be investigated in a "fully accountable way".
It is reported that KPMG, the special liquidators of IBRC, cited banking confidentiality and legal privilege when asked to disclose certain documents to the commission.
Last night, a spokesperson for Siteserv Holdings Limited told the Irish Independent no contact had been made with the company or its shareholders.
"From the outset, the company had expressed its willingness to co-operate fully with the commission," they added.
Independent TD Catherine Murphy said: "Given the circus of setbacks the commission has suffered since its inception in early June, it is difficult to believe the Government is serious about getting any real answers to the serious questions surrounding IBRC and certain transactions."
She said that "at the very least" the interim report should deal with some of the more high-profile transactions, adding: "It is unacceptable that we are almost five months since the commission was instigated and we now discover that it may not have even begun the process of providing answers."