Business Irish

Friday 24 March 2017

PAC chief: 'Misleading' to say we can investigate Siteserv

John McGuinness said PAC could not investigate IBRC
John McGuinness said PAC could not investigate IBRC
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

The head of the Dáil's spending watchdog has criticised Government claims that his committee can investigate the Siteserv controversy.

Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness said it was "misleading" to suggest that the PAC may probe transactions carried out by the former Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC).

The Carlow/Kilkenny TD was responding to Finance Minister Michael Noonan's claims that the controversy could be referred to an Oireachtas body, including the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), following the completion of a Government- established review.

Opposition TDs, including Independent deputy Catherine Murphy, have voiced serious concerns about the review because it is being carried out by KPMG, the same firm that liquidated the former Anglo Irish Bank.

The Government has rejected the claims. It said the appointment of a High Court judge to oversee potential conflicts of interests would ensure the review's independence.

Mr Noonan was yesterday challenged in the Dáil over the Siteserv issue for the second time in the space of 12 hours.

"The review and report will evaluate whether there is any evidence of material deficiencies in the performance of their functions by those acting on behalf of IBRC, including the board, directors, management, employees and agents of IBRC and whether it can be concluded that any of the transactions were not commercially sound," Mr Noonan said.

Review

"I have asked that the special liquidators carry out this review and provide a report of their findings before August 31, 2015. Following this, I will make this report available to relevant committees of the Oireachtas," he added.

Mr Noonan later suggested that the PAC could probe the Siteserv controversy following the review - prompting a terse response from Mr McGuinness.

He said the PAC did not have the powers to investigate transactions by banks such as IBRC, and added that it was misleading to suggest otherwise.

"The remit of PAC will not allow it to go into IBRC and will not allow it to call witnesses," Mr McGuinness said.

"If it's to be referred to us, it will have to be given to us with the appropriate powers to analyse it and to call witnesses," he added.

Raising the issue in the Dáil yesterday, opposition TDs again called on Mr Noonan to initiate an independent inquiry - calls he rejected.

Sinn Féin finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty said the public would take serious issue with the decision to appoint KPMG over the review.

"I failed to hear why the Minister is so opposed to a commission of inquiry. He says he has instigated the review because of public concern about the sale - three years and two months after the issue was first raised in the Dáil," Mr Doherty said.

Irish Independent

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