ANGLO Irish Bank “infiltrated” the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) leading to a pro-developer culture and potentially influencing decisions on buying land.
An Oireachtas Committee heard there was a “systematic conflict of interest” because Anglo directors also sat on the board of the development authority which was initially set up with a social-regeneration role but became more focused property development.
DDDA chairwoman Niamh Brennan said there were questions about “whether those individuals were owing their duties solely to the good of the authority or whether they were engaging in transactions, influenced by their interests outside of the authority”.
She said: “Anglo Irish Bank did a very extensive amount of business with developers. I believe that kind of relationship with developers led to the authority having a very pro-developer perspective and approach to its activities, with less attention on the planning side.”
Lar Bradshaw became the first chairman of the DDDA and within a year Anglo’s Sean FitzPatrick had joined the board. Mr Bradshaw was then invited to join the board of Anglo.
“Initially, you had two independent directors. But by virtue of sitting on each others’ boards, they became cross-directors and their independence, or appearance of independence at the very least, became compromised,” Ms Brennan told the Oireachtas Environment Committee.
The authority’s property assets have lost €186 million in value and Fine Gael last night claimed the taxpayer will end up picking up the tab for “disastrous land deals” when the property loans are taken over by NAMA.
Environment spokesman Phil Hogan described the authority as a “financial septic tank” and said “there is no way the taxpayer should have to pay for the entire amount of mistakes” by Mr FitzPatrick and Mr Bradshaw.
Ms Brennan said she expects the board to lose a further €10m this year on top of its €231m deficit.
Mr Hogan said the losses were a result of the “infiltration” of Anglo and the “stewardship” of DDDA by Anglo board members.
Asked if anyone on the current board of the authority has any conflicts of interest, Ms Brennan said: “On any board there will always be conflicts of interest.”
She said: “I don’t believe that is a problem, particularly if the conflict is handled appropriately. Where it does become a problem is where it’s not just in relation to one transaction, but where the conflict is systematic and pervasive.
“I don’t believe there is any member of the board that has a conflict that falls into that category.”
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