Former Dublin Docklands Development Authority chairman Lar Bradshaw has said that the taxpayer did not lose any money in the controversial purchase of the Irish Glass Bottle site in Ringsend seven years ago, but has expressed regret that the authority went through with the deal.
Addressing the Public Accounts Committee yesterday, Mr Bradshaw — who was also a non-executive director of Anglo Irish Bank, one of the main lenders for the purchase — said he had no conflict of interest and nothing to gain on a personal level from the transaction.
He said that, “contrary to popular belief”, neither the State nor the taxpayer lost any money from the deal, but added that the State could have made “considerably” more money than its reported €85m net profit.
He expressed regret over the €52m loss incurred by the DDDA, however, and said that he wished — in hindsight — that the authority hadn’t gone through with the deal.
He said that as the Dublin Port Company got 33% of the sale proceeds, the taxpayer didn’t lose out.
Now under the control of Nama, the Ringsend site was sold to a consortium, including the DDDA, for an initial €412m (before stamp duty and other fees boosted the total to €431m), at the height of the market in Nov 2006.
It was never redeveloped and was subsequentlyrevalued at just €45m in 2010.
A 2012 report from the Comptroller & Auditor General said that the DDDA executive had warned the authority’s board of bidding for the site at a time when the commercial property market was deemed to be overheated.
That report also found that the DDDA failed to get an independent valuation of the site before committing to a bid.
Mr Bradshaw yesterday said that management had recommended the board partially buy the site as part of a joint venture with developer Bernard McNamara, but admitted that they also warned of the overheated market.
However, he questioned the C&AG’s suggestion that there wasn’t evidence that the DDDA had informed the government about the decision to bid twice the initial price.
The Departments of the Environment and Public Expenditure and Reform had authorised borrowing for a joint venture bid of €220m.
Mr Bradshaw said that the C&AG’s comments were “incomplete” and claimed that the second in command in the Department of the Environment was “fully aware” of the intentions of a higher bid.
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