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Finance Minister insists all concerns raised by Pearse Doherty on Siteserv sale will be addressed by commission


Finance Minister Michael Noonan

Finance Minister Michael Noonan

Pic Steve Humphreys

Finance Minister Michael Noonan

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has insisted all of the concerns raised by Sinn Fein's Pearse Doherty into the sale of Siteserv will be addressed by the Commission of Investigation.

Mr Noonan, speaking in the Dail this afternoon at the close of a two-day debate on the Commission, responded to calls from Mr Doherty that the terms of reference be expanded to ensure all relevant matters are covered.

He said that the terms do not need to be expanded as they will already be covered under the existing terms.

"The concerns raised by Deputy Doherty are covered by the current terms of reference – the Commission shall investigate all transactions, activities and management decisions during the relevant period which are identified by the Commission as giving rise or likely to give rise to potential public concern," Mr Noonan said.

Mr Noonan told the Dail that retired High Court Judge Daniel O'Keeffe will head up the new Commission of Investigation.

Last night, Mr Doherty used Dail privilege to claim that businessman Denis O'Brien made four attempts to extend a loan with the former Anglo Irish Bank and eventually got an extra 12 months to make repayments.

Mr Doherty asked: "How does a bank in liquidation create what is a essentially a new €315m loan which its group credit committee had rejected just a number of months earlier."

Mr Doherty confirmed earlier that he has handed over the documents upon which he made his Dail comments to Taoiseach Enda Kenny, for the purposes of being given to the Inquiry.

In his closing address, Mr Noonan commended Deputy Doherty for handing over the documents.

He said he maintained the view that the 31 December 2015 deadline is appropriate bearing in mind the different nature of the review and its extended scope.

Mr Noonan said that under the terms of reference the Commission will have the power to investigate any transaction that gives rise or is likely to give rise to potential public concerns, regardless of the level of loss. He was responding to calls from Renua leader Lucinda Creighton to reduce the threshold for all transactions to €1m.

 Mr Noonan said that while it is essential that the focus of the investigations remain on the individual transactions, it is from a review of the individual transactions that trends and potential concerns may be identified.

"Section 4 of the terms of reference provides the Judge the power to go further with the investigation in the public interest on any other matters of concern arising from its investigation and report and make recommendations on those matters," he said.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin's request that the Wealth Management Unit within IBRC be included in the inquiry has been acceded to by Mr Noonan.

Similarly, the terms of reference have explicitly included the performance of agents of IBRC on the matters under investigation in order to enable the investigation of concerns raised regarding the role played by IBRC’s advisors, he said.

Mr Noonan also said all transactions, verbal and otherwise are relevant to the Commission and the Judge has the authority to decide to proceed where he sees fit.

"It is not my intention nor the intention of the Government to cut off a potential line of investigation into transactions, activities and managerial decisions of IBRC,  that has given rise or likely to give rise to potential public concerns," he said.

Mr Noonan said that following consultation this morning with the Attorney General and a review by the Attorney General’s Office of the statement made by Deputy Doherty last night and the document provided by the Deputy to the Taoiseach’s office, "I can confirm that the circumstances raised by Deputy Doherty relating to a verbal agreement before the liquidation of the bank is within the scope of the terms of reference."

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