From top: ‘Don Conroy’, Ray D’Arcy, Ciara Carroll and Simon Young: Denis O’Brien
Humanoids of Ireland write:
Denis O’Brien first attempted to influence the people of Ireland by appearing on The Den under the alias “Don Conroy”. Getting into the psyche of Irish children was a clever tactic to improve public opinion of him in future generations. Unfortunately, it didn’t go quite to plan. Most of these kids (now grown-ups) realise he’s still a complete [REDACTED].
Denis O’Brien did an interview with Bloomberg earlier this morning in which he talked about Digicel, the IPO which didn’t happen, Google and Facebook.
Towards the end of his interview, Mr O’Brien spoke about Irish Water.
Presenter: “A final question and this goes away from telecom, Google and Facebook, what are your views on the delays of forming an Irish Government?”
Denis O’Brien: “Well, it has been fraught, it hasn’t worked out as well as it should. I think the Government were wrong to back down on the water, Irish Water. You know they, it was the right thing, all the infrastructure is Victorian for the supply of water in Ireland, people have a lot of, they have free water in many, many cities in Ireland so it… they gave up on that and set up a commission to evaluate what they should do with Irish Water so that’s kicked in the air and down the field whereas it should have actually stayed. And the investment, you know, there’s an investment programme of between €3bn and €4bn that was supposed to go into that – that now is under question.”
Presenter: “So what parties would you like to see in power?”
O’Brien: “Well I really don’t care who’s in power but I think there needs to be stability in Ireland, I would have a concern if there’s a lack of stability that will affect foreign direct investment and, you know, it’s a time in Europe where there’s a lot of unsettling things that are happening. You’ve got Brexit, you’ve got immigration, you’ve got a very polarised Europe…”
Work taking place on the LXV building at the corner of Stephen’s Green and Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2 last October
Denis O’Brien took advantage of a new tax-efficient legal entity established by the government last year when he sold a landmark building on St Stephen’s Green in Dublin for a reported €30m profit.
O’Brien reportedly sold the LXV building, on the site of Canada House, for €85m last month.
A Sunday Times investigation has revealed that on May 25 O’Brien transferred the ownership of the LXV building into an Irish Collective Asset-management Vehicle (ICAV), a legal structure established by the government two months earlier to attract corporate investment funds to Ireland.
The Real Estate Development and Investment Fund ICAV was set up by William Fry solicitors, which acts for both O’Brien and Fieldsville, the company owned by Catherine O’Brien, the billionaire’s wife. Fieldsville was responsible for developing the six-storey high LXV block on the corner of Earlsfort Terrace, which is almost complete.
Revenue officials are investigating the operation of a new tax-efficient corporate vehicle designed for the funds industry, which is instead being used for property investments.
.. On Thursday, Michael Noonan, the finance minister, responded to questions about ICAVs tabled by Pearse Doherty, Sinn Fein’s finance spokesman, and their use by [Denis] O’Brien in a property deal.
Doherty stated this had resulted “in the exchequer being deprived of corporation tax, income tax and capital gains tax earned on profits from source assets”.
Noonan revealed the Revenue Commissioners have told him they are “currently examining recent media coverage concerning the use of investment funds for property investments. Should these investigations uncover tax-avoidance schemes or abuse, which erodes the tax base and causes reputational issues for the state, then appropriate action will be taken and any necessary legislative changes required will be considered”.
[Denis] O’Brien did not respond to questions relating to his use of an ICAV. The shareholders for the ICAV used by O’Brien are two William Fry trust companies. The firm regularly acts for O’Brien in tax cases.
For clarity, I am a communications consultant to clients, including Denis O’Brien.
Mr O’Brien does not control Independent News & Media, nor is he a director.
Neither is he chairman of Communicorp, as incorrectly stated by Colum Kenny.
During my years in journalism, and since, I do not recall Colum ever getting exercised about media ownership when he was a very regular columnist at the Sunday Independent and at a time when INM’s share of the media market was considerably greater than it is today.
Ireland’s political parties have been urged by the National Union of Journalists to tackle the thorny issue of media ownership and control in the country.
The NUJ renewed a call for the establishment of a commission on the future of the media, arguing that cross-party co-operation should form part of the current negotiations on the formation of a new government….
An email from Denis O’Brien to Des Carville at the Department of Finance, obtained by journalist Gavin Sheridan, under the Freedom of Information Act
You may recall how the sale of Siteserv to Denis O’Brien’s Isle-of-Man-based acquisition vehicle Millington in March 2012 came after Davy Stockbrokers and KPMG were tasked with finding a buyer by a subcommittee of the Siteserv board.
Des Carville was the Davy adviser to Siteserv during the sale. Mr Carville previously helped Davy to advise Mr O’Brien on deals involving Esat.
Meanwhile, separately, in yesterday’s Sunday Times, Brian Carey wrote:
“For all the world, the inquiry into loan write-offs at IBRC looks like it was built to collapse: the towering edifice, the flimsy foundation, the complex material, the entirely infeasible completion deadline.”
“It ran out of control well before it was due to begin. By estimating a duration of several years, judge Brian Cregan first rendered the whole prospect outrageous. It was the government’s decision to broaden the probe to 38 transactions and losses to the state bank of more than €10m. Now the government claims that an investigation could cost as much as a tribunal.”
“There never were grounds for a probe of that scope, depth, length or expense, nor was one ever demanded. And so the public’s quest for truth runs aground in a legal quagmire of confidentiality , privilege and enormous expenses. How convenient.”
“There were only ever a handful of questions that begged answers in this affair. Did Denis O’Brien, the most powerful businessman in the country, receive preferential treatment in his dealings with IBRC? Was he unduly favoured in his purchase of Siteserv, a utilities service company which was heavily indebted to the bank? Did he get preferential rates of interest on his own personal borrowings?”
“… KPMG could review, as suggested by Cregan, the top 12 write-offs, provided once again there is no conflict of interest. It is the job of a liquidator to investigate the affairs of a bust company. As yet, the evidence is not there to justify a wide-ranging, lengthy and expensive judicial inquiry. Frankly the public should be aghast that one should take place without, at least, establishing a case for such a probe.”
“By the same token, the Siteserv issue should not be buried with this administration. Right now, this looks like a manufactured botch job.”
“Dublin music radio station Radio Nova is preparing to take legal action against Transport Infrastructure Ireland, the operator of the Dublin Port Tunnel. The legal action will challenge TII in relation to the fact Nova’s programmes cannot be heard in the Tunnel. Only seven radio stations are broadcast in the Port Tunnel due to limitations in its current system. Radio Nova is not one of them.”
“Radio Nova claims the restriction is in breach of EU competition regulations and the 2002 Competition Act and that it is “inherently unfair and damaging” to its business.”
“… In what may prove to be a controversial view, Nova is also claiming that the Port Tunnel’s system for communicating with motorists in the event of emergency is “fundamentally flawed” and that it has shown favouritism to Denis O’ Brien’s Communicorp in the broadcasting of his radio stations within the Tunnel.”
“…The Port Tunnel carries RTE Radio 1, Today FM, Newstalk, FM104, 98FM, Spin 1038 and Q102.”
From top: Denis O’Brien; Red Flag Pr consultancy’s logo
In the High Court.
Denis O’Brien’s conspiracy case against Red Flag for allegedly undermining Digicel’s public offering continues…
Senior Counsel Michael Collins said in Mr O’Brien’s first affidavit he said he hired “professional investigators” to carry out inquiries about the source of a possible campaign against him.
He said it later turned out that it was an accountant in Kiev who simply carried out a “one-man desk search” for media stories that were publicly available.
…In a subsequent statement he said the Red Flag involvement was revealed to him after a USB stick arrived on his desk anonymously.
Mr Collins said the USB stick “simply materialised on his desk like Doctor Who’s Tardis”.
He said a USB stick marked for his attention could not have simply arrived on his desk in his office at his business headquarters in Grand Canal Street as Mr O’Brien claims because it would have to have been delivered to someone or gone through security.
“It is inconceivable that someone just waltzed into his office and left it there yet there was no record of how it was delivered,” Mr Collins told the court.