Siteserv probe is further delayed by firm's liquidation
Company documents are vital to IBRC inquiry
Published 15/11/2015 | 02:30
The judge leading the IBRC commission of inquiry has come up against yet another obstacle following a decision by the bank's special liquidator to dissolve the company whose sale forms a central part of his investigations.
The Sunday Independent has learned that Mr Justice Brian Cregan's efforts to probe the circumstances surrounding the sale of Siteserv have been further frustrated by the fact the company was formally dissolved by the liquidator, Kieran Wallace, on August 6 last.
While Siteserv had originally been put into liquidation in June 2012 following its sale to the Denis O'Brien-owned Millington the previous March, the timing of its final closure is understood to have caused concern among the IBRC's former management, coming as it did eight weeks after the commission of inquiry began its preliminary investigations into 38 transactions where the bank wrote off debts in excess of €10m.
The dissolution of Siteserv effectively prevents Mr Justice Cregan from seeking company documents as technically the firm no longer exists. The Sunday Independent understands from sources familiar with the matter that while the issue could be addressed, it would require a High Court application from the special liquidator to have Siteserv restored to the Register of Companies.
A spokesman for Mr Wallace declined to comment.
A source close to the IBRC special liquidators insisted, however, that the company's closure would have little impact on the commission of inquiry's work as all the information they had in their possession in relation to the sale of Siteserv had already been offered.
"Kieran Wallace has already offered this [the information] to the commission. All he requires now is a direction from the commission to deliver it," the source said.
Separately, it has emerged that Mr Justice Cregan has informed the Government in his draft interim report that he will require the assistance of a second judge to assist him in his investigations into the 38 IBRC transactions which form the subject of the commission of inquiry.
Explaining his request, Judge Cregan raised his concern that conflicts of interest could arise during the course of the work of the commission, of which he is the sole member. The appointment of a second judge could help to overcome this hurdle, he believes, and help to avoid potential or perceived conflicts of interest from arising.
It is further understood that Mr Justice Cregan believes that it could take up to nine months to review each of the 38 IBRC transactions which are subject to the commission's scrutiny.
The future of the commission of inquiry was thrown into doubt last week after it emerged that the judge had written to Taoiseach Enda Kenny to tell him the commission's work was being stymied by the bank's special liquidators and the Department of Finance, both of whom had cited issues of confidentiality and legal privilege.