Wednesday 26 October 2016

Noonan 'stalling probe into the sale of Siteserv'


BUSINESSMAN Denis O'Brien today said that he would be more than happy to appear before any Public Accounts Committee examining the sale of the Siteserv company.

Mr O'Brien outlined in a statement that he was merely the buyer and did not run the sale process which saw a company he controls, Millington, purchase Siteserv from the IBRC for €45m.


Finance Minister Michael Noonan has announced a special review of the sale and other "big transactions" worth over €10m which were handled by IRBC.

The review will be carried out by special liquidators of IBRC, led by Kieran Wallace of KPMG, who officials said is well acquainted with the issues involved.

A report is expected to be completed by August 31 and then passed to the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee which could pass it to the public spending watchdog, the Comptroller & Auditor General (C&AG).

The independent expert who supervised the Siteserv deal said it was the best value and most straightforward offer.

Walter Hobbs said that €100m lost from the sale to the Denis O'Brien-owned company Millington had already been lost back in 2011.

He said that the negotiation was an attempt to save the last €50m.

A report is expected to be completed by August 31 and then passed to the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee.

The move by Mr Noonan is a clear effort to defuse three days of intense controversy.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin accused Mr Noonan of avoiding taking action for two years - saying the latest move merely continued that delaying process.

"Minister Noonan needs to go back to the drawing board and come forward with plans for an independent investigation," the Fianna Fail leader added.

Mr Martin again asked how the €45m sale of the building firm was made to the Millington firm, owned by Denis O'Brien, at a loss to taxpayers of €105m.


He also asked how €5m was paid to shareholders of Siteserv when the company was bust and also pointed to serious concerns by Finance Department officials about the handling of the matter by IBRC bank.

Speaking in Limerick, Mr Noonan again said he had been assured that the issue was correctly handled and delivered the best possible result for the taxpayer.

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