Friday 22 November 2019

Docks boss got cash bonus after disastrous deal

PAC to investigate €27,200 paid to Maloney despite Irish Glass Bottle site debacle

Paul Maloney, former chief executive of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority
Paul Maloney, former chief executive of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority

SHANE PHELAN Public Affairs Editor

A FORMER chief executive of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) was paid a €27,200 bonus after sealing the disastrous €412m Irish Glass Bottle site deal.

Then DDDA boss Paul Maloney received the bonus for 2006, the year he spearheaded the site purchase, records obtained under Freedom of Information rules reveal.

The payment is now set to be investigated by the Dail's spending watchdog, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which is still probing the Irish Glass Bottle deal.

Records obtained by the Sunday Independent also reveal Mr Maloney's salary increased by 4.8pc to just under €150,000 following the highly questionable acquisition of the site in Ringsend, Dublin.

The deal ended up costing the authority €52m after the property market crashed.

Mr Maloney was centrally involved in pursuing the purchase, which was carried out through the Becbay consortium, comprising the DDDA, developer Bernard McNamara and financier Derek Quinlan.

Mr Maloney's bonus payment was approved by a remuneration committee made up of four DDDA board members – former Anglo Irish Bank director Lar Bradshaw, senior civil servant Mary Moylan, then Bank of Ireland non-executive director Declan McCourt, and Niamh O'Sullivan of engineering firm Arup.

The records show a further bonus of €29,400 was also paid to Mr Maloney the following year, shortly before the value of the site collapsed, plunging the authority into financial crisis.

That payment was approved by a remuneration committee comprising Ms O'Sullivan, former Anglo chairman Donal O'Connor and civil servant Mark Griffin.

The controversy over the Irish Glass Bottle deal precipitated Mr Maloney's departure from the authority in the summer of 2009, a full year before his five-year contract was due to expire.

DDDA files show that despite leaving the authority early, Mr Maloney continued to be paid until June of 2010, by which stage his salary was almost €159,000.

He will also be eligible for a pension reflecting the full five years of his contract and not just the four he served.

Mr Maloney becomes eligible to collect a taxpayer-funded retirement gratuity of €29,800 in two years' time and will be entitled to an annual pension of €9,900, also funded from the public purse.

PAC chairman John McGuinness, whose committee has been investigating the DDDA for over two years, said details of bonuses paid to Mr Maloney had not been previously disclosed.

"We were not told about this before. It is an issue of concern," he told the Sunday Independent.

The committee is due to hear evidence from former DDDA chairman Niamh Brennan in the coming months.

"We will be asking Prof Brennan about it, and if there is a requirement to bring Mr Maloney or any of the remuneration committee back in again to explain this, we will," said Mr McGuinness.

Another committee member, Fine Gael TD Eoghan Murphy, said he was anxious to learn why the DDDA continued paying Mr Maloney after his departure.

Mr Maloney did not respond to a request for comment. He has already been asked by the committee to explain spending accumulated on DDDA credit cards while he was chief executive.

A report by the Comptroller & Auditor General (C&AG) was highly critical of the Irish Glass Bottle deal.

It found the DDDA told the Department of Environment in October 2006 it expected to bid €220m for the site.

There was no evidence that the authority formally informed the department it would actually be bidding almost double that amount a month later. Mr Maloney has denied misleading the department over the value of the site.

He told a PAC hearing last December that the wrong figure had been sent to the department when the DDDA was seeking approval to borrow up to a limit of €127m.

He said he had not authored the letter, did not see it before it was sent and did not sign the letter.

Mr Maloney told the PAC he became aware a few days later that the incorrect sum was in the letter.

He said he immediately corrected this at a board meeting, where he gave board members, including a government representative, an estimated sale figure of €375m.

However, C&AG Seamus McCarthy told the committee it was clear to him that officials approved the higher borrowing limit on the basis of the €220m valuation, and not one of €412m.

The committee also heard that Anglo stepped in to finance the project at the last minute when negotiations with another bank ended.

The authority will cease to exist later this year following a decision by Environment Minister Phil Hogan to shut it down. Its functions will be taken over by Dublin City Council.

Sunday Independent

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