The Dáil will this evening debate a Fianna Fáil motion demanding an independent Commission of Inquiry to examine the circumstances surrounding the sale of Siteserv and other company sell-offs by IBRC.
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Public Expenditure Seán Fleming has said an independent inquiry is the only way to establish if the interests of the taxpayer were fully protected.
Deputy Fleming explained, “The Labour Party needs to step up to the plate on this issue. Recently the Tánaiste Joan Burton called for ‘all of the relevant information’ about the sale to be put into the public domain. We are providing her with an opportunity now to do just that.
“We firmly believe that that Michael Noonan’s decision to direct the same firm involved in the Siteserv deal to now review that very deal, along with other major transactions at IBRC, poses a glaring conflict of interest. The Minister has essentially taken a short cut that will only further damage the public’s confidence in the Government’s extremely weak review of this controversy. It is essential that the investigation is undertaken in a fully independent manner. An oversight role for a former, who was appointed by KPMG, will not address any of the concerns that have been raised.
“The purpose of an independent investigation is to definitively establish why Siteserv was not sold to the highest bidder and why shareholders in an essentially insolvent firm were paid €5m as part of the sale process. It was stated in the Department of Finance memo that ‘Arguably no payment should have been made to shareholders given precarious position of company’. Given the apparent lack of confidence the Department of Finance had in IBRC, it is very unclear why Minister Noonan was happy to accept IBRC’s assurance it was doing its job well.
“In a memo to Michael Noonan, Department of Finance officials say they were ‘concerned at the number of large transactions [at IBRC] that have been poorly executed under the direction of the bank’s former chief executive’. This was in sharp contrast to parliamentary replies from Minister Noonan, which would have led one to the conclusion that the process was satisfactory.
“This conflict goes to the heart of public trust in a process in which literally billions of euro of taxpayers money was at stake. We need a focused and transparent inquiry to quickly establish the facts of the case and to take action if the taxpayer has in anyway been disadvantaged,” commented Deputy Fleming.