Wednesday 21 February 2018

Finance chief John Moran won't reveal detail of 'sensitive' Barclays file

John Moran, General Secretary at the Department of Finance
John Moran, General Secretary at the Department of Finance

Donal O'Donovan and Shane Phelan

THE head of the Department of Finance claims he cannot release an email he sent to a representative of the billionaire Barclay brothers in relation to businessman Paddy McKillen because of commercially sensitive reasons.

It is understood the email was in response to an offer by the Barclay brothers to buy loans held by the bank and owed by their bitter business rival Mr McKillen.

The secretary general of the Department of Finance John Moran responded to a suggestion that his department was withholding information, after it only granted the release of six out of 19 files requested under the Freedom of Information Act earlier this year.

He was at the PAC to address a growing controversy over allegations of possible leaking of sensitive data about businessman Paddy McKillen.

That included an issue raised in the Dail by Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin, who queried a decision to grant the release of just six out of 19 files requested under the Freedom of Information Act earlier this year.

The Barclay brothers and Mr McKillen are locked in a long-running battle for control of a group of three London hotels -- including the famous Claridges.

Mr Moran said the email was sent after he received an enquiry by phone from an agent for the Barclays -- to make an offer for assets of IBRC.

The Barclay brothers previously bought loans linked to Mr McKillen from NAMA.

Mr Moran said he responded to the enquiry by email and passed the matter to officials.

The content of that email was not released under freedom on information rules, because it was deemed to be "commercially sensitive" by his department's freedom of information (FOI) officer, Mr Moran said.

As head of the department he had no role in the FOI process, Mr Moran said.

But the decision not to publish the email is being appealed, he noted, and he said he would be happy to see the email in question released.

"The passage of time" makes the contents of the email less commercially sensitive, he noted. He said he would be happy to meet Mr McKillen.

Irish Independent

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