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Siteserv inquiry to face further delay as costs hit €6.7m

Commission falls behind new timetable as Government says bill to hit €30m


Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

Fears have emerged of yet further delays to the Siteserv inquiry as costs continue to mount.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar revealed in the Dáil that inquiry costs have risen to €6.7m. Varadkar added he had "no information on the status of its investigation".

His department has since declined to respond to detailed queries from the Sunday Independent about what sources described as new delays that could further increase the cost of the inquiry.

Oral hearings due to be completed in June under a new revised timetable are still not complete and this could further delay the inquiry, it is understood. The Taoiseach earlier this year approved a 15-month extension to the work of the Commission of Investigation, which was established in 2015 to examine transactions that led to a loss for the State-owned Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC).

The inquiry has on a number of occasions since then sought several deadline extensions to complete its work.

The Government has estimated that when third-party legal costs that have been incurred by the commission but not yet paid are included, its cost could ultimately rise to more than €30m.

As part of its most recent request for a 15-month extension, the commission laid out a new timetable of how it proposed to complete the first module of its work - which is to examine the Siteserv deal.

The Sunday Independent understands that the oral hearings under this timetable that were due to be completed in June 2019 have still not been completed. The Department of the Taoiseach also declined to respond to a question as to whether a draft report on the first two phases of the first module that was due to be produced by the end of October 2019 have yet been produced. The Commission of Inquiry also said that it had no comment.

In March, in its sixth interim report, which contained the newly revised timetable, the commission also provided an estimated final cost of the completion of the first module of its investigation, regarding the Siteserv transaction, of €11m to €14m.

Varadkar told the Dáil last week that "this estimate assumes the investigation is completed in accordance with the timetable set out in the interim report and excludes costs or delays associated with judicial review hearings."

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"The commission acknowledges that it also involves a substantial degree of uncertainty regarding the amount of costs actually recoverable by parties before the commission, and it assumes the commission's legal costs guidelines are not successfully challenged," he said.

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