State faces €10m bill to fund Siteserv inquiry

The State will face a bill of at least €10m to fund the investigation into the 2012 sale of Siteserv by the IBRC to a company owned by billionaire businessman Denis O’Brien.

State faces €10m bill to fund Siteserv inquiry

Taoiseach Enda Kenny met leaders of the opposition yesterday to discuss the latest attempts to get the Cregan Commission back on track after it ran into difficulty over confidentiality issues. It was agreed that Cabinet would discuss the issue next Wednesday and if approval is agreed, legislation will be brought to the Dáil with a view to having it passed in full before the Dáil rises for summer recess.

However, it emerged at the meeting that, because of the complex nature of the investigation, the costs associated with the commission are set to escalate significantly, with a figure “north of €10m likely”.

Justice Brian Cregan has indicated that, if the amendments are made and the legislation enacted, he will be able to report on Siteserv within 12 to 18 months. It was also agreed that there will also be amendments to the terms of reference of the commission which would allow for the modular approach to the investigation into the various IBRC transactions and conduct.

At the meeting with Mr Kenny were Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty, and Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Ms Murphy said: “It’s not the ideal situation to put the other transactions on the back burner but I do believe that if we can agree a meaningful investigation into the Siteserv transaction it will go a long way to showing us if the culture within IBRC was the best it could have been in relation to the way in which transactions were conducted.”

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy
Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy

Mr Doherty called on the Government to resource the commission properly. He said the operation has been hampered by the lack of powers and resources and has been unable to cast a full light on the operation of IBRC and the sale of assets at a greatly reduced price.

“The wind-up of IBRC and the sale of assets all happened under the watch of Enda Kenny and Michael Noonan,” he said. “For the past six months, there has been ongoing meeting with an Taoiseach on this matter and little progress has been made. The Government need to move now to fully resource the commission and enable it with the necessary legal powers to fully investigate the actions of IBRC and ensure this state got the optimum value for taxpayers’ money.”

Siteserv was sold by IBRC in March 2012 to the O’Brien-owned firm Millington for €45m, the bank effectively wrote off €105m owed to it by the sold company, a decision former IBRC chairman Alan Dukes said yesterday was because of other elements in the agreement.

More in this section