Tag Archives: Denis O’Brien

From left: John Fitzpatrick, Bill Clinton and Denis O’Brien leaving Peploe’s, Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2 on March 23, 2017

The FBI has been investigating the Clinton Foundation for months, reviving a probe that was dialed back during the 2016 campaign amid tensions between Justice Department prosecutors and FBI agents about the politically charged case, according to people familiar with the matter.

The inquiry resumed about a year ago. Agents are now trying to determine if any donations made to the foundation were linked to official acts when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013, these people said. The people did not identify what specific donations or interactions agents are scrutinizing.

FBI has been investigating the Clinton Foundation for months (Washington Post)

How much?

Irish Aid, the Government development agency, gave the Clinton Foundation $5 million to $10 million.

The American Ireland Fund donated between $500,000 to $1 million.

Denis O’Brien and his mobile-phone company Digicel have contributed between $10m aand $25m.

Before Christmas, John Fitzpatrick, chairman of the Ireland America Fund, appeared on the Marian Finucane Show on RTÈ Radio One, where he discussed his friendship with the Clintons and the foundation.

Marian Finucane: “You’ve been to the White House as you say for over the 20 odd years, remind me how you got to know Hillary Clinton and how you got involved with her and remind me in turn how that impinges, say, on Trump.”

John Fitzpatrick: “Yeah I was very lucky that first visit or maybe it was the second visit to the White House, it was the time that Hillary Clinton was first lady and there were rumours that she was going to run for the Senate and I remember being there and just going up to her and then I said ‘First lady I hear you are running for Senate and she said I am indeed and I said well my name is John Fitzpatrick I have a hotel in New York and I’m sure you’re looking for the Irish-American vote and she said I am indeed so I handed her my bus card there and then and said get someone to call me I’ll do a fundraiser. I had about 10 seconds with her at that stage and she walked by and I remember some Irish person behind me saying ‘Only you, Fitz, would hand your business card to the First Lady.’ So a few days later I got a call from Huma Abedin who we all know is her right hand person and still there…”


Finucane:
“Is she still there?”

Fitzpatrick: “She is. I was out with Huma there about a month ago having diner because she’s going through tough times with her ex husband and they came down to my house himself and her son and she’s great she’s helping Hillary now on her book launch and she’s travelling round the country she’s still with her that’s with the Clintons they’re loyal to the people and Huma is so loyal to her too so I think they’ll be together for a while, you know.”

Finucane: “Yeah funnily enough we had Leo Varadkar in earlier and we were talking about loyalty and where it can take you and if you take Hillary Cllinton and her loyalty to her husband’s foundation it kind of got her into the trouble that led to the ‘lock her up’ syndrome.”

Fitzpatrick: “Yeah, I think this campaign was a very unique one because of Donald Trump. I mean There were no rules no boundaries the President as he is now feels he can say what he likes and deal with the consequences after where as most politicians will be very careful about what they say, what they said about the foundation I thought said was a little bit unfair but it was his smear it was his campaign to get people thinking was there something wrong with the foundation the foundation is a very strong foundation and the Clintons have supported so many organisations all around the world that I think it’s a very good foundation still.”


Finucane:
“And you do fundraising for them still?”

Fitzpatrick: “I did, yes, the President was in Ireland just about a months ago to get an honorary degree from an Irish university and myself and Denis O’Brien co-hosted a dinner in my house down in Ashford for him, it was a small group and we just did it kind of as a sign of respect for him and to raise some money because as I said it’s a great organisation.”

Good times.

Listen back here

From top: Denis O’Brien; Declan Ganley

On Monday Mr O’Brien’s lawyers filed affidavits from Colm Keaveney, a former Fianna Fáil TD, and Johnny Fallon, a political consultant, in which the two men link [Declan] Ganley with Red Flag, the PR company that Mr O’Brien has been suing for alleged conspiracy and defamation since 2015.

The former TD has also alleged that Karl Brophy, Red Flag’s founder, arranged for a senior Department of Finance official to meet Micheál Martin, the Fianna Fáil leader, in 2015 to discuss a Dáil debate on the sale of Siteserv to Mr O’Brien. He also alleged that he was sent parts of the dossier by Red Flag.

This claim is odd, absurd, and untrue,” John McGuirk, a spokesman for Rivada, said. “Declan Ganley is not and was not a client of Red Flag.”

O’Brien names Ganley as the client behind Red Flag dossier (Mark Tighe, The Time Ireland edition)

Meanwhile…

Previously: Above The Law

 

Judgment due on O’Brien appeal over refusal of Red Flag discovery (The Irish Times)

Previously: They All Have It Infamy

Denis O’Brien leaving the Four Courts last year after he lost his case against the Dáil and State over statements made by in the Dáil about his banking affairs; a tweet by former Communicorp journalist Jessie Magee

Further to Denis O’Brien-owned Communicorp banning all journalists from The Irish Times contributing to its radio stations…

Mark Tighe, in The Times Ireland edition, reports today about journalist Jessie Magee, who worked for Communicorp stations for ten years, deciding to quit last week.

He reports:

“I was unhappy with the management culture there for a while,” Ms Magee said. “It’s not a happy work environment.”

She also said that there was always extra concern about covering stories about Denis O’Brien on Newstalk or Today FM.

There have been stories over the years on Esat or O’Brien suing newspapers or the Dáil and there is a fear about covering them.’ Everything about him has to be vetted and proofed . . . There was huge concern about how, or if, we could cover those stories.”

Communicorp declined to comment.

Communicorp radio staff ‘embarrassed by ban on Irish Times journalists’ (Mark Tighe, The Times Ireland edition)

YIKES!

Otis Blue writes:

Spotted in the Ukraine International Airlines inflight magazine.

It’s a universal look in fairness…

He’s good.

But he’s no Vladimir Savčić.

Kitty Holland, of The Irish Times; Denis O’Brien, owner of Communicorp

Last night.

At the Gate Theatre, Dublin.

Further to Denis O’Brien-owned Communicorp – which includes Newstalk and Today FM – banning all Irish Times journalists from the group’s radio stations…

…Following the newspaper’s columnist Fintan O’Toole saying he would no longer go on Newstalk in the wake of George Hook’s comments about rape…

… Kitty Holland, who is the Social Affairs Correspondent at The Irish Times, “confronted” Mr O’Brien about the ban…

Fair play. In fairness.

Thanks Sandra

From top: Denis O’Brien; yesterday’s Sunday Business Post

You may recall the Siteserv sale back in 2012.

Denis O’Brien owed Anglo Irish Bank hundreds of millions.

Siteserv owed Anglo Irish Bank €144 million.

Denis bought Siteserv debt-free for €45 million.

You will find a detailed background to the deal here.

Since then  a Commission of Investigation, led by High Court judge Brian Cregan, has been tasked with investigating the sale of Siteserv to Denis O’Brien, and other matters.

Earlier this year Catherine Murphy, of the Soc Dems, submitted a 300-page statement to the Commission detailing her research into the sale.

The commission has since written to Ms Murphy saying, if she doesn’t reveal her sources, “it may not be possible to advance some of the issues raised” by her.

Further to this…

Yesterday.

In the Sunday Business Post.

Tom Lyons reported that an anonymous email sent to Taoiseach Enda Kenny and others – including the then Financial Regulator Matthew Elderfield, Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin and Maurice Keane, a non-executive director of IBRC – is to be investigated by the commission.

Mr Lyons reported:

A special email set up by an unknown party used an address called whistlebx@live.ie on April 5, 2012 at 12.20pm to make various allegations about the controversial sale of the business by IBRC to O’Brien a few weeks earlier.

The contents of the “DOB” email were previously posted online in the comments section of the website Broadsheet.ie but its contents received little attention at the time.

The comment was left under a Broadsheet post about the Siteserv sale on April 5, 2012, a few minutes after the email was sent to Mr Kenny.

‘Whistbleblower’ stated:

Regular entertaining of Anglo senior management by Denis O’Brien has always been a feature, but that has increased significantly since Mike Aynsley, Tom Hunnersen and DOB’s personal friend Richard Woodhouse have joined the Bank.

A few weeks ago DOB and his wife were seen on the town with Mike Anysley, Tom Hunnersen and their wives. Denis while he is in Ireland is driven around by Mike Coughlan (a former Anglo employee) and is a regular visitor to the Anglo offices in Burlington Road, and is down there this morning having a one to one with Mike.

Most worrying is that the management of DOB has been moved under Richard Woodhouse, a close personal friend of Denis. Then the Siteserv account is also moved over to Richard Woodhouse’s management.

Interesting DOB’s initial bid for Siteserve was too low to be included in the 2nd round of bidders and he was initially not included in the 2nd round. DOB was not the highest final bidder, but IBRC asked for a letter to be produced that showed that DOB’s lower bid was the best bid.

Another account that has been moved to Richard is the personal borrowings of Brian Harvey and DOB has promised (in support for supporting the DOB bid) is that he will arrange for Anglo to do a deal on Harvey’s debt. The independent consultant to Siteserv is a long friend of DOB (worked on Boundary – see below) and is a also a heavily indebted borrower of Anglo who DOB has also promised to sort out.

Then the management of the Niall McFadden/Boundary Capital relationship is also moved to Richard Woodhouse. Anglo now looking to sell the debt of Niall McFadden (a close friend of Denis O’Brien) to DOB for a fraction of the original amount to allow Niall McFadden fraustrate National Irish Bank’s bid to secure bankruptcy.

More worryingly, IBRC (when the case was being managed by the Personal Lending team) initially decides that forebearance is the best option in the management of the Tony O’Reilly relationship (a bitter foe of DOB). Then suprisingly, the case management is moved to Richard Woodhouse, and the new team decides to take a more agressive stance on O’Reilly with the case expected to go legal shortly.

Further to this…

Mr Lyons also reported yesterday:

An internal review, however, was carried out at the time by IBRC into the allegations made in the email in a project code-named Rain.

A position paper was prepared to help the bank respond to questions relating to it. This was circulated both inside and outside the bank in response to queries about the email, which was in circulation between senior politicians, civil servants and journalists.

IBRC concluded that allegations in the email were either false or a misinterpretation of events. James Shaw, group operations in IBRC, carried out a review of the bank’s computer systems which failed to find who sent the email.

Kroll, the corporate investigations firm best known for tracking the fortunes of Saddam Hussein and the late Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, was then appointed by the bank to investigate.

The bank suspected an employee of the bank was behind the email, as parts of it described the movements of O’Brien and IBRC chief executive Mike Aynsley. Kroll however was unable to determine where the email originated from.

…IBRC produced a paper in response to this allegation which says:

“It is in the public domain that Mr Denis O’Brien is a significant borrower of the bank. It is also in the public domain that his outstanding loans are performing and have been significantly reduced by way of repayments over the past two years. As with any material borrowing relationship in the bank, Mike Aynsley, group chief executive, is closely involved in if, how and when these outstanding loans are repaid. Mr Aynsley has met with Mr O’Brien on a number of occasions in this capacity.”

The O’Brien dinner referred to in the email was not attended by Hunersen – but was attended by Aynsley and Richard Woodhouse (an IBRC executive).

Former minister for justice Michael McDowell later mentioned this dinner in a speech in the Seanad in July 2016.

Aynsley responded to McDowell by saying:

“The anonymous blog that Mr McDowell referred to is just plain wrong on just about everything it raises, except for the fact that there was a dinner,” Aynsley said.

The purpose of the dinner was to mark Aynsley defeating O’Brien in a charity weight-loss competition. Alan Dukes, the chairman of IBRC, he said was aware of the matter and had no objection.

Concerning Anglo’s ‘hard-line on Tony O’Reilly, IBRC, in its position paper, stated:


“There is no evidence to show that IBRC took an unnecessarily hard line with O’Reilly. The bank instead pursued a strategy of trying to reach a consensual solution with him.”

Anonymity and allegations: the IBRC Commission of Investigation (Sunday Business Post)

Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy speaking about the sale of Siteserv in the Dáil on May 6, 2015

Yesterday.

In the Sunday Business Post.

Tom Lyons reported that the Commission of Investigation tasked with investigating the sale of Siteserv to Denis O’Brien, and other matters – which is being led by High Court judge Brian Cregan – has told Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy that if she doesn’t reveal her sources, “it may not be possible to advance some of the issues raised” by her.

Mr Lyons reported:

The Commission wrote to Murphy earlier this month in relation to her 300-page witness statement, much of which it said appeared to be “dependent upon information and views supplied to you by unidentified persons”.

It said that the allegations in her statement and accompanying documentation appear to be based on confidential banking information about named individuals that “may have serious implications for the good name and reputation of the person or persons mentioned.”

The Commission said it was “of the view that, if such allegations, information and views are to be admitted into evidence, it will be necessary in the interests of fair procedures, and in order to protect the constitutional and person rights of the persons named, that the identity of the sources of such information and views should, in the first instance, be disclosed to the Commission.”

It said it would then consider whether such allegations, information and views should be admitted into evidence, and whether the identity of the source should be disclosed to witnesses or potential witnesses “bearing in mind the right of a witness to confront his or her accuser, where serious allegations are made against him or her.”

The Commission requested Murphy disclose the source or sources of 23 allegations made in her 300-page witness statement to the Commission as well as furnish it with six emails without redacting the name of their sender.

These allegations relate to O’Brien, Brian Harvey, the then chief executive of Siteserv, Mike Aynsley, the chief executive of IBRC and Richard Woodhouse, a senior executive of IBRC, among others.

…“The Commission is appreciative of the assistance you have provided it to date,” it said. “However, if and to the extent that sources are not disclosed and / or unredacted documents are not made available to the Commission, whether based on a claim of parliamentary privilege or otherwise, it may not be possible to advance some of the issues raised by you.”

Yesterday.

On Kildare FM, Ms Murphy said:

“Yes, I received a letter from Justice Brian Cregan during the week, I think it was Wednesday. I will be taken, and have taken and will take further advice before responding in detail. Essentially, I’ve given a commitment to people who came to me with information that that would be treated in confidence. I gave them absolute assurance that that would be the case and I’ll respect that. I feel duty-bound to respect that.”

Siteserv sale probe: Murphy told she may have to reveal sources (Sunday Business Post)

North Kildare TD Catherine Murphy Intends To Stand By Siteserv Sources (Kildare FM)

Previously: [REDACTED]’s 1.25% Interest Rate

Bringing The House Down

Denis O’Brien

Colm Keena, in The Irish Times, reports:

Businessman Denis O’Brien has lodged an appeal in the case he took against the Dáil, the Dáil Committee on Procedures and Privileges and the State over comments made in the parliament about his financial affairs.

Papers lodged with the courts indicate he is taking his case to the Court of Appeal. However, it is understood he will also seek to have his case go directly to the Supreme Court on the basis that it involves important constitutional issues.

As part of his appeal he will be seeking to overturn the High Court’s ruling that he pay the legal costs of the seven-day hearing.

There you go now.

Previously: It’s Been A Privilege

[REDACTED]’s 1.25% Interest Rate

Denis O’Brien to appeal court ruling over Dáil comments (Colm Keena, The Irish Times)