Siteserv had €10m on books but was for sale on ‘cash-free’ basis, says TD

Siteserv had €10m on its balance sheet when sold to Denis O’Brien’s company Millington despite the fact that prospective bidders were told it was for sale on a “cash-free” basis, a TD has claimed.

Catherine Murphy said she has information that Siteserv had the money when sold in 2012 even though the construction company was apparently haemorrhaging cash and owed taxpayers €150m.

She made the claim during a Dáil debate last night and amid calls for a Government-sanctioned review into the sale of Siteserv by IBRC to be scrapped and replaced by a full independent inquiry.

Ms Murphy said a subsidiary of Siteserv had prepared bids before the sale to install water meters. Sierra, the subsidiary, went on to win lucrative contracts with Irish Water, she said.

Ms Murphy raised concerns about how Siteserv was sold, before it was eventually bought by Millington for €45m, at a loss of €105m to IBRC and taxpayers.

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“Various sources involved in the process have indicated to me that they always felt that all bidders were not playing from the same starting line,” Ms Murphy said.

“In the information pack sent to prospective bidders who had signed confidentiality agreements, it stated that it should be assumed that the company will be acquired on a debt-free and cash-free basis, yet I have had indications that when Siteserv was sold to Millington it actually had €10m on its balance sheet in a combination of cash and debtors.”

Her claims raise questions as to why a subsidiary of Siteserv was preparing to bid for lucrative water-meter contracts when the main company was apparently bust, and why bidders were told Siteserv had no cash.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil has pushed for a full independent inquiry and dismissed the judge-led review which has been ordered by Finance Minister Michael Noonan.

TD Billy Kelleher asked why KPMG was being asked to review the IBRC deals, including the Siteserv sale, when it had been at the centre of transactions as liquidators with the bank. “They are being asked to investigate themselves,” he claimed.

Mr Noonan defended the KPMG review and said it would be finished at the end of August. He said his department had not been made aware of the details around the sale of Siteserv by IBRC until after its sale in 2012.

Joe Costello, a Labour TD, said he preferred if KPMG were not involved in the review of the IBRC deals.

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