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Sunday 4 December 2016

Judge overseeing IBRC investigation says he could narrow scope to just Siteserv sale

Published 04/12/2015 | 21:22

Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Taoiseach Enda Kenny

THE judge overseeing the Commission of Investigation into IBRC has indicated that he could narrow its scope to just the controversial sale of contracting firm Siteserv.

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Mr Justice Brian Cregan told officials in the Department of An Taoiseach if he just focused on that transaction he could issue a report by the end of 2016.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has sent a letter to the Opposition parties outlining a series of possible options now available for getting the inquiry back on track.

However, Mr Kenny indicates that there are still significant hurdles and points out that the investigation has cost €307,000 to date.

The Commission, which is probing 38 transactions involving write-off worth more than €10m,  was set up after a series of allegations were made in the Dáil about the former Anglo Irish Bank.

The most controversial was the Siteserv deal which saw it acquired by Denis O’Brien’s Millington company with a write-off of €110m.

In his eight page letter, Mr Kenny outlines how the Siteserv element of the inquiry could be fast-tracked but he wants to meet with the Opposition parities to discuss the issue.

He also suggests that the Government is struggling to overcome issues of confidentiality and privilege raised by the judge.

In relation to confidentiality he notes that the Oireachtas could enact “bespoke legislation” to provide a new legal basis for the Commission.

Other legislation will need amending to give the judge more power to access information form the Stock Exchange.

Another option under consideration is giving the Minister for Finance powers to direct the Special Liquidator to waive legal privilege over documents from IBRC.

However, Mr Kenny said this could come “with uncertain consequences for the taxpayer if such a power were to be exercised and subsequently successfully challenged”.

Mr Kenny notes that the former Directors of IBRC have “expressed entirely reasonable concerns at the delay encountered in conducting an inquiry and the fact that they are not therefore in a positon to defend their good name against allegations which they reject”.

He says that €3m has been set to fund the Commission’s work in 2016.

Concluding the letter, Mr Kenny said: “A number of significant risks remain, while choice will be required in relation to the scope of the Commission’s work in order to ensure as early a report as possible, and to minimise financial costs and risk.”

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