Tuesday 21 November 2017

Personal attacks against civil servants over Siteserv 'regrettable' - John Moran

John Moran - taking up new role.
John Moran - taking up new role.

Daniel McConnell & Sarah Stack

John Moran, the ex-Secretary General of the Department of Finance, says personal attacks made against civil servants who asked questions about the Siteserv deal are “regrettable".

Mr Moran has issued a statement after former Fine Gael leader turned IBRC chairman Alan Dukes made critical remarks about him

His comments are the latest twist in the Siteserv saga which has dominated the political agenda for the past week.

At a press conference on Friday, Mr Dukes traced the deterioration of his relationship with the Department of Finance to a request by the then-head of the department John Moran to join the board of IBRC.

Read more: Angry Dukes insists 'nothing untoward' in deal

Mr Dukes said he felt it would not be appropriate for Mr Moran to join the board, saying Mr Moran had requested he be appointed.

However, Mr Moran has strongly denied that he approached Mr Dukes about a position.

In a statement, Mr Moran said he finds it "regrettable and a step back to pre-crisis mindsets among bank management that what seems to have been happening today are personal attacks on civil servants asking the right questions, who were representing after-all the new shareholders of those banks - the taxpayers."

He continued that it might have been better to use the time available to deal with the substance of the issues raised by both the department and other public representatives.

Mr Moran said he would be happy to answer any other important issues after reading transcripts of all that was said about him and former colleagues in the department.

On Friday, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan announced a review of the sale of Siteserv and other transactions by the IBRC, formerly Anglo Irish Bank.

In March 2012, Siteserv was bought for €45m by Millington, a company controlled by businessman Denis O'Brien, after over €105m of its debts to Anglo Irish Bank were written off.

Mr Dukes later told the RTE's 'The Business' that if the Department of Finance had any questions about what was going on in the bank they should have raised them at the time.

“To bring it down to specific in the case of the Siteserv deal, the department is now saying that they have  questions about how it was done and whether it was in the taxpayers’ interest,” he said in the programme which was broadcast on RTE Radio One this morning.

“A process was put in place for that deal which, from my point of view at the bank, was a robust process.

“The bank was not selling the company. The company was being sold but the bank was simply a creditor and we had to make sure that we had an independent person supervising that who could look out for the bank’s, and there for the State’s, interest.”

Mr Dukes said in addition to that there was an ongoing process in the bank where there was a monthly review with the department officials involved with the progress of the sales programme

“Since the Siteserv issue went on for some months that matter was referred to from time to time at those t those meetings,” he continued.

“In addition to that the Department of Finance always got, as a matter of due course, all the papers that went to the board before the board briefing.

“I haven’t any information to suggest they had concerns or that they had expressed any concerns throughout that process.”

Mr Dukes said then the final deal was put to the board of IBRC they considered some of it “looked a bit unusual” but at the end of the day “it was €45m or nothing”.

“We decided from the taxpayer’s point of view €45m was a hell of a lot better than nothing,” he added.

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