Fresh questions to answer over ‘misplaced’ IBRC files

“Misplaced” Siteserv files suddenly discovered by the Department of Finance have thrown up new questions for the Government amid claims it deliberately tried to hide the information. 

IBRC board meeting minutes found as a commission of investigation was set up on Wednesday night show the State lost €9m more on the Siteserv sale to billionaire businessman Denis O’Brien in March 2012 than previously believed.

They also show a key IBRC board member who was directly involved in loans for Mr O’Brien attended the board meeting which signed off on the Siteserv deal despite officials saying he was kept separate from the decision.

The records were published by the Department of Finance alongside the draft terms of reference for the commission of investigation into the IBRC controversy on Wednesday night.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan had previously told the Dáil his department did not have the March 15, 2012, IBRC board meeting files that rubber-stamped the controversial Siteserv sale.

He said this was an unfortunate error as the files were “misplaced” and that the discovery on the same day as the commission of investigation decision was a “coincidence”.

The March 15, 2012, files — available on the department’s website — show the State suffered a “writeoff of the balance of facilities of €119m” due to the Siteserv sale, €9m more than previously stated. The meeting minutes also show the bank’s then head of asset management, Richard Woodhouse, attended the meeting and discussed the deal.

On April 24 this year, former IBRC chairman Alan Dukes said Mr Woodhouse was kept out of discussions as he also managed the relationship between the bank and Mr O’Brien.

However, the minutes show Mr Woodhouse was in attendance and contributed to the Siteserv debate.

Mr Dukes, who chaired the board meeting, told the Irish Examiner last night, despite the minutes, Mr Woodhouse was not involved. He said the official was “kept away from the process” and “wasn’t involved” in the deal itself, and only attended the meeting because of a “totally separate”, unstated issue.

Asked how this was the case, as Mr Woodhouse is shown in the board minutes discussing the Siteserv deal, Mr Dukes said the official “wasn’t involved” in the deal being put to the board.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin last night said he “did not buy” claims the crucial information was misfiled before being suddenly discovered, alleging that “there was a deliberate attempt to prevent this from getting out”.

He was joined by Sinn Féin and Renua Ireland, which raised concerns that the investigation will not be able to examine interest rate deals costing the State less than €4m and sales costing the State over €10m.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Enda Kenny dismissed recent debate over issues linked to Dáil privilege as “hysteria”.

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