SiteServ sale: Noonan - Review will look at malpractice or criminal acts

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has insisted that a review of the Siteserv deal can be done at arms length before a full-blown inquiry into the controversial sale is decided on.

SiteServ sale: Noonan - Review will look at malpractice or criminal acts

The expert review will examine if any malpractice, criminal offences or unsound business was engaged in when the company was sold at a loss of €100m to the taxpayer.

He and Taoiseach Enda Kenny have not ruled out setting up a full inquiry into the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation deal and will decide when the review is finished after the summer.

The review will be conducted by IBRC’s special liquidators, Kieran Wallace and Eamonn Richardson, to examine 30 or more sales by IBRC valued at more than €10m.

In relation to the aims of the review Mr Noonan said: “One is to establish if there were any malpractices or any criminal offences and secondly would what happened in these transactions be considered to be sound business practice.”

READ MORE: Calls issued to probe Siteserv sale; TD Murphy receives more documents .  

The review will go to Government by August 31 and then be passed onto the spending watchdog, the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee.

Mr Noonan said the short review was preferable instead of a full tribunal of inquiry, which could take nine months and could go on for years.

He said the scoping exercise was taking place as questions over the Siteserv deal were now in the public domain and it was not because anything improper had taken place before.

But he outlined how he and his officials in the Department of Finance had been frustrated in their dealings with IBRC, the former Anglo Irish Bank.

He acknowledged that the activities of IBRC were always going to be controversial arising from selling insolvent assets at a loss to the taxpayer who had already paid €34bn to bailout Anglo.

He said he had “never received any evidence of any sort” that anything improper had happened.

Department of Finance officials though became frustrated in dealing with IBRC, he said. This resulted in a major meeting between officials on both sides, including him and IBRC chairman Alan Dukes, where the latter gave assurances about the bank’s activities.

Mr Noonan also said that the relationship between IBRC and the department improved after an assistant secretary general was put on its board.

The minister defended the review of the Siteserv deal. He said the KPMG liquidators could bring in outside experts, if needed, if it emerged that there was a conflict of interest.

Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin want a completely independent inquiry and point out that the liquidators are linked to previous transactions at IBRC. They also say that PAC will have no remit to look at any potential criminality in IBRC’s actions and the interests of the taxpayer are not mentioned in the review’s terms.

Mr Dukes yesterday said he had the confidence of Mr Noonan, which was evident when he was reappointed as IBRC chairman.

He defended pay levels at the bank and said it had a “good track record”. He defended the Siteserv deal, saying the company was “bleeding cash” and it was the “best” that could be done.

READ MORE: Calls issued to probe Siteserv sale; TD Murphy receives more documents .  

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