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Enda Kenny denies IBRC sales inquiry cover-up claims

Published 10/11/2015

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the Department of Finance has handed over 200,000 pages of unredacted documents
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the Department of Finance has handed over 200,000 pages of unredacted documents

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has denied a cover-up in the stalled judge-led investigation into asset sales by the rebranded Anglo Irish Bank.

An interim report on Judge Brian Cregan's inquiry is expected to be sent to Government next week, with the Taoiseach insisting he does not fear the probe will collapse.

One of the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) sales being probed is billionaire Denis O'Brien's purchase of Siteserv which involved a writedown of 119 million euro (£84.6 million).

The inquiry has ground to a halt amid the judge's ruling that financial documents linked to clients of the bank are confidential and privileged, and cannot be taken in as evidence.

The Taoiseach said the Department of Finance has handed over 200,000 pages of unredacted documents, some of which are subject to the classification, with another 30,000 thought to have come from the liquidators in KPMG.

Under questioning in the Dail, Mr Kenny said: "I don't think that the inquiry should collapse."

Judge Cregan wrote a letter to the Taoiseach last Friday saying he was "not in a position to proceed" with the audit of at least 37 IBRC deals which involved a write-off.

His subsequent 77-page determination said documents cannot be taken as evidence if they are privileged and confidential, and that there is no p ower to engage in balancing of rights or to infringe on a person's contractual right to confidentiality.

Mr Kenny said the breakdown in the inquiry was not a deliberate ploy and denied under questioning from Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams the inquiry was not transparent.

"There's no need to make an assertion of some kind of restriction or cover-up on documentation," he said.

Parliamentary questions, led by Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy, were asked for several months over the sale of Siteserv.

Documents released by the Department of Finance - only discovered and released at the same time as the announcement of the inquiry - revealed the sale went through in March 2012 with a debt write-off worth 119 million euro. The figure was previously thought to be about 100 million euro (£71 million).

There have been claims that Siteserv shareholders earned five million euro (£3.5 million) in the deal despite the company being on the verge of going bust, and that the winning bid was not the highest on the table.

It was one of the sales of assets or loans by Anglo to be examined under Judge Cregan's inquiry covering the time from the rogue lender's nationalisation on January 21 2009 until when the liquidation was ordered in February 2013.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said: "The public generally will be looking at this and saying 'you know what when it comes to the powerful and the wealthy, you never really go too far with the inquiries'.

"That's a problem with the general perception of how obstacle after obstacle can be put in the way of some very basic truths about very basic issues."

Mr Adams said: "Taoiseach, your claim that the Government only found out about legal difficulties with the Commission of Investigation into IBRC last week has no credibility whatsoever. For a lengthy period, you resisted calls from the opposition for an investigation.

"So, you were well warned that the scope of the investigation was not wide enough to carry out the necessary examinations. There is widespread suspicion that this was the Government's intention all along."

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