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.
Some 18 months after the sale of Siteserv, in November 2013, Mr Carville, a former KPMG employee, joined the Department of Finance as Head of its Shareholder Management Unit.
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.”
Previously: Bringing The House Down
High court refuses to order PR company to disclose client who commissioned dossier re Denis O’Brien. @rtenews
— Orla O’Donnell (@Orlaodo) December 21, 2015
Vexatious litigant is vexatious.
Previously: They All Have It Infamy
Port Tunnel, Dublin
Hot Press reports:
“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.
December 2013: Denis O’Brien buys Topaz for €150 million (with a €150 million IBRC write off) amid some grumbling (above).
October 2015: Competition and Consumer Protection Commission clears the sale of Esso forecourts to Topaz.
December 2015: Denis O’Brien sells Topaz for an estimated €450 million-plus.
G’wan the capitalism.
New owner of Topaz says did not bid for the company when sold by liquidator of IBRC because “other priorities” and “complicated.”
— Tom Lyons (@TomLyonsBiz) December 2, 2015
Among this year’s Global Economic Forum invited attendants. The forum runs from today until Saturday.
Regional meetings will take place in Derry, Galway, Limerick and Laois while the forum will meet in Dublin Castle tomorrow and Saturday.
Full list of the participants here
Earlier: Oh, It’s You
Previously: They All Have It Infamy
From top: Denis O’Brien; Anne Marie McNally
Currently embroiled in the Red Flag/[REDACTED] alleged conspiracy controversy, Anne-Marie McNally writes:
When does money become power? When does power become a desire for control and when does that control become all consuming? Does it matter much if you become irrational and frenzied along the way as you pile up law suit on top of law suit all the while trying to frighten people into submission and acquiescence?
There has been much talk about the ‘chilling effect’ caused by certain individuals who take umbrage with any form of scrutiny of their business dealings but the true extent of that chilling effect is perhaps not thoroughly understood by those outside the political and media bubble.
The unfortunate reality is that when details of the latest lawsuit or legal threat make it into your daily read, you are getting a heavily sanitised version of what is actually going on and just how damaging it potentially is. The real context is never wholly laid out because that ‘chill’ hangs over the journalists trying to write the story.
The ‘chill’ in many of these cases is more than an implied threat of professional and personal litigation; it is far too often a very real legal threat on foot of an injunction being in place. As someone with an intimate knowledge of many of these stories I often read the coverage and find it unrecognisable to the reality of the situation.
If you know you’ve done nothing wrong and you have acted in good faith and with clean hands then it is incumbent on you to stand up and be counted in the face of threats and intimidation. Journalists are increasingly pushing the envelope in this regard but there is still a significant problem with the control wielded over newsrooms by cautious lawyers terrified of shaking the sleeping beast.
To call for good governance is not something to be shy about. To say that the State should uphold its duty to implement the recommendations of any tribunal – which has cost the state millions – is not out of order or in any way a conspiracy. It is simply the obvious response of anyone with an interest in public affairs and a desire to see a functioning society within which openness and accountability are valued and the dominant political and corporate culture is based on transparency rather than secrecy.
If somebody with money (or the appearance of money), power and a desire for control decides to get overly paranoid about things and paint everybody as having a vendetta or being somehow involved in a conspiracy then that is an unwarranted over reaction that cannot be allowed to influence the actions of those calling for good governance in Irish society.
If all of this seems in a vacuum to you then I apologise but I am not immune to the ‘chilling effect’ when it comes to committing words to paper but I’m hopeful that anybody who has been keeping a close eye on recent events in the High Court and the corresponding-albeit sanitised- media reports will understand my point.
However while I am forced to be careful about what I commit to paper and how I explain current events, I do not have to temper my actions as a citizen of this State calling on people to sit-up and take notice of things that deserve closer scrutiny within the public interest.
As a citizen with a keen interest in current affairs and a passion for a political system that people can trust, I will not be chilled in my actions to draw attention to questions that deserve answers. It is not about who is involved or not involved, it is not about targeting any individual; it is about the system and trying to force a change to the system.
If the same individual happens to be involved in a significant amount of the issues that deserve scrutiny then perhaps they should begin to question their own actions rather than the actions of those calling for the scrutiny.
Anne-Marie McNally is a political and media strategist working with Catherine Murphy TD and will be a candidate for the Social Democrats in the forthcoming General Election. Follow Anne-Marie on Twitter: @amomcnally
Ely Place, Dublin 2.
Bugged and possibly soon-to-be-searched home to Red Flag AND iCan, [Redacted]’s digital advertising agency.
Awkward House Meeting!
Last night: They All Have It Infamy
The High Court has heard Mr O’Brien received a memory stick from an anonymous source which contained damaging allegations against him, and, it is claimed, originated in Red Flag.
Mr O’Brien apparently has been concerned for some time at the number and regularity of hostile stories about him here and abroad.
He was concerned the drip-feed of stories was being orchestrated as they appeared excessive even for a person who is in the public eye because of business interests at home and abroad.
The court has heard the businessman feared there was a campaign being mounted against him funded by a unknown entity with the aim of damaging his reputation. In the last year there have been many stories about Digicel, Mr O’Brien’s purchase of a new jet, and the Moriarty Tribunal amongst others, mainly negative.