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22.33 21 Apr 2015


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The former chairman of Anglo Irish Bank is categorically rejecting suggestions of any impropriety in the sale of SiteServ by IBRC in March 2012.

Opposition TDs are calling for an independent inquiry into the way IBRC, formerly Anglo, sold some of its largest assets, including SiteServ.

The company was sold to Denis O'Brien's Millington firm at a loss of €105m.

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In a statement released tonight, Alan Dukes says all aspects of the sale were considered in detail by the board of the bank and the decision was considered to be the best course of action available, in the interests of the shareholder and of the State.

"I categorically reject suggestions that there was any impropriety in the sale of Siteserv by IBRC in March 2012. All aspects of the sale were considered in detail by the board of the bank and the decision made was considered to be the best course of action available, in the interests of the shareholder and of the State," Mr Dukes said.

He said the Department of Finance was kept informed throughout the process, although it later became concerned about the deal.

"Some time later," Dukes said, "the Department of Finance raised questions about the sale, apparently on foot of public comments by a company which had made a non-compliant bid.

"These questions were examined in detail during discussions between departmental officials and senior management of the bank. They were again discussed at a meeting between the Minister for Finance and representatives of the board at a meeting in July.

"During that discussion, the board representatives informed the Minister that the matter had been referred to the Central Bank, which had no comments to make. At the conclusion of that discussion, the Minister professed himself satisfied with the bank’s reasoning and decisions."

He went on to say "it is worth recalling that the sale took place over two years before there was any discussion of a public contract for the installation of water meters."

Mr Dukes said the Department of Finance memoranda, released through a Freedom of Information request, "are both partial and incomplete."

Independent TD Catherine Murphy has called for an independent inquiry into how the former Anglo Irish Bank managed the sale of some companies.

Ms Murphy issued the call after receiving new documents about IBRC's sale of Siteserv to Denis O'Brien's Millington firm, at a loss of over €100m to the taxpayer. The company turned a significant profit the following year.

She says the documents revealed tensions between IBRC and the Government over how it handled the sale of some assets.

Ms Murphy said the documents suggest there was more than one reason for the unexpected liquidation of IBRC two years ago.

“Reading the minister’s own statement on the night IBRC was wound down, essentially it was said that there was only one reason for that,” she said.

“Yet, Reading the documents relating to IBRC and that relationship between the Minster, between the Department and the board of the bank, it’s very hard not to conclude that that played some role in its premature winding down,” she added.

Fiann Fáil leader Micheal Martin called for an independent inquiry and rejected the Taoiseach’s claim in the Dáil that he was not fully briefed on the issue, but that at the time of the sale IBRC was not required to inform the Minister of its decision.

“We’re talking a company here who owed €150m,” Mr Martin said.

“The advisors to the sale of the company recommend that they get the top-end, five million (euro). And this is all just going on under your nose and you’re just oblivious to the while thing, if we’re to believe you here today,” he added.

The Junior Minister for Finance, Simon Harris TD, said the Government is still determined to make sure the state gets the best value for its stake in the banks, despite the decision to sell SiteServ at such a loss.

Harris tonight insisted the current government has acted above board at all times.

“Every single action that has been taken by this government and by the Minister for Finance has been taken to minimise the cost of bailing out the banks to the Irish tax-payer and to restore our banking sector to a functioning reality so that it can continue to serve the Irish economy,” he said.

“We may disagree on that, but that’s the Modus Operandi and the efforts undertaken by officials in the Department of Finance ... and indeed by the Minister for Finance,” he said.


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