Tuesday 6 December 2016

Siteserv write-off €9m more than thought, 'lost' files show

Published 05/06/2015 | 02:30

Finance Minister Michael Noonan was forced to apologise for saying he did not the IBRC minutes
Finance Minister Michael Noonan was forced to apologise for saying he did not the IBRC minutes

The debt write-off on the controversial Siteserv deal was €9m more than previously suggested, according to missing files discovered by the Department of Finance.

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It was previously stated that the Irish Bank Resolution Company (IBRC) sold Siteserv to a company owned by businessman Denis O'Brien at a write-down of €110m.

However, the minutes of an IBRC board meeting on March 15, 2012 state that the write-off was €119m.

The firm was sold to Mr O'Brien's company Millington for €45.4m and Siteserv shareholders received a €5m pay-out as part of the deal.

The minutes state: "Following consideration, the board approved the proposal as as presented namely (i) to proceed with the sale of Siteserv pls for €48m (with net proceeds arising for the bank of €44.3m) with (ii) a write-off of the balance of facilities of €119m following the sale, however noting that the this was circa. €10m in excess of the current impairment provision".

Last night, a Department of Finance spokesman said they did not put the €110m write-off figure into the public domain.

The IBRC minutes also reveal concerns raised by other Siteserv bidders who felt their offers were not treated fairly by IBRC. Finance Minister Michael Noonan was forced to apologise this week for telling the Dáil he did not have the minutes.

Mr Noonan said he would apologise to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, who previously asked him for the information.

The minister also said he would write to the Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett to have the Dáil record corrected.

Mr Martin yesterday insisted the terms of the Commission of Investigation into IBRC needed to be widened to included the bank's relationship with the Department of Finance.

He also called on Mr Noonan to come before the Dáil and explain how the minutes were mislaid by his civil servants.

"The way this continues to be handled falls well short of what the public expect," Mr Martin said,

"The Government clearly hope that they have drawn a line under the crisis with the announcement of a commission of inquiry. But the efforts we have seen to mislead the public have actually raised yet more questions to which we need answers," he added.

The Commission of Investigation was established after Independent TD Catherine Murphy raised concerns about Mr O'Brien's banking affairs with IBRC and the suitability of a review of the bank by KPMG special liquidators Kieran Wallace and Eamonn Richardson.

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe admitted the independent inquiry was necessary due to conflicts of interest allegations made against Mr Wallace.

"There are now a number of concerns in relation to potential conflicts of interest. If these were dealt with by the Oireachtas or privately by the Government understandable question would be raised in relation to impartiality and rigour," Mr Donohoe said.

Irish Independent

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