The former chairman of IBRC said he was “scandalised” that Finance Minister Michael Noonan had primed the probe into the bank’s major loss-making deals to look for evidence of criminality and malpractice.
Venting his fury at Mr Noonan, the former Fine Gael leader held a press conference in a Dublin solicitor’s office to attack any suggestion of law-breaking as “outrageous”.
“I am extremely angry at any reference to criminality or malpractice. There’s absolutely no grounds for suggesting that,” Mr Dukes said, referring to the inquiry’s terms of reference.
READ MORE: Opposition lashes out at plan for SiteServ review .
Mr Dukes hit back after freedom of information documents painted a picture of a very strained relationship between the Department of Finance and the IBRC board in the wake of a political storm unleashed by details of the Siteserv sale.
The construction firm was sold by IBRC, at a €105m taxpayer loss, to a company controlled by tycoon Denis O’Brien, with shareholders given a €5m “sweetener” payment to approve the move.
Mr Dukes was dismissive of claims surrounding the deal. “There are people around who see conspiracy in their tea leaves,” he said.
A subsidiary of Siteserv went on to land a lucrative contract to supply water meters which raised eyebrows among some opposition TDs.
Mr Dukes said the Department of Finance was kept fully abreast of the Siteserv deal and he would co-operate with the probe as he insisted it would find nothing untoward.
“We didn’t just have the belt and braces, we had the belt and braces and the safety pins as well,” the former IBRC chairman said.
Setting out the key aims of the probe, which will be conducted by KPMG who acted as the liquidators of IBRC, 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.”
Opposition parties branded the €5m “sweetener” deal paid to Siteserv shareholders despite the company being bust as “reprehensible”.
Comments by Walter Hobbs, IBRC’s adviser in the deal, that the payment was necessary because “people had power, they had votes and their votes had to be bought”, also caused disquiet among opposition TDs.
Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin stepped up demands for an independent commission of inquiry into IBRC as they pointed to a clear potential conflict of interest due to the involvement of KPMG in the review proposed by the Government.
Mr O’Brien said he would give evidence to the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee if he was asked to do so.