Belfast Telegraph

Losses inquiry over bank wind-down cannot probe write-off transactions

An investigation into multimillion euro losses during the wind-down of the former Anglo Irish Bank is unable to probe any of the relevant write-off transactions, the Government said.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny established the Commission of Investigation after allegations of favourable deals for some clients of the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation.

He received a letter from the chairman of the commission, Judge Brian Cregan, on Friday.

The Taoiseach's department said: "This letter refers to a determination made by the Commission related to the issues of confidentiality and privilege which means that 'it is not in a position to proceed with its investigation into any of the relevant write-off transactions'."

Mr Kenny had insisted there was no evidence of wrongdoing but a judge-led inquiry was needed.

Parliamentary questions had been asked for months over the sale of the Siteserv company from the old Anglo books to billionaire Denis O'Brien.

Documents released by the Department of Finance - only discovered and released at the same time as the announcement of the inquiry - revealed that 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.

There have been claims that Siteserv shareholders earned five million euro 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 40 sales of assets or loans by Anglo to be examined under a commission of inquiry from the rogue lender's nationalisation on January 21 2009 until when the liquidation was ordered in February 2013.

The Department said the Commission would seek an extension of time for the completion of its work.

"The Government believes that it is essential that a full and independent investigation into these transactions is completed as quickly as possible.

"On Friday therefore the Taoiseach requested advice from the Attorney General on the implications of this determination, and the legal options now available to ensure such an investigation can be completed in an effective and timely manner.

"He requested this advice as a matter of urgency to ensure that he can report to the Government as soon as possible on the steps necessary to ensure that this is achieved."

Sinn Fein Leader Gerry Adams said the near-collapse of the investigation was entirely predictable.

"Let's remember the Government never wanted a Commission of Inquiry and resisted it at every turn. Fine Gael and Labour were dragged kicking and screaming into establishing this commission.

"The investigation they eventually established is clearly not fit for purpose and will short change citizens who have lost hundreds of millions of euro because of the government's mismanagement of public monies.

"The powers and scope of the investigation must be widened. All relevant information must be available to investigators."


From Belfast Telegraph