Tag Archives: Michael Noonan

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Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 01.44.50Finance Minister Michael Noonan on Six One last night.

Michael Noonan gave the government’s latest position on the Siteserv deal last night to Brian Dobson on RTÉ’s Six One News . An account which directly contradicts former IBRC chairman Alan Dukes’ recollection.

Grab a tay.

Brian Dobson: “This was a deal that, because of the write-off of the debt, it cost the taxpayer, the State, over €100million. It was one of many such deals, of course throughout that period. But it was one you raised concerns about in the aftermath, it seems, of the deal being done. Now, at what stage and why did you become concerned about this transaction?”

Michael Noonan: “Well, first of all, Anglo Irish Bank was a bit of a disaster, the taxpayers put in €34million, when Fianna Fail were in Government, and I saw my responsibility to protect the taxpayer and, if possible, to reduce the cost of servicing the €32billion and we did that with the promissory arrangements and then to recover as much as we possibly could. And I found that we didn’t have the kind of flow of information I would have now with AIB, for example, because the arrangement that my predecessor entered into didn’t require transactions to be notified and I was in the position of having to answer to the Dáil and of being unsure of the flow of information, even though there was regular meetings between IBRC and Finance officials.”

Dobson: “So in relation to Siteserv then, you were only aware of the transaction, the fact that €100m, over €100m of debt had been written off and that the company had subsequently been sold to a company controlled by Denis O’Brien in March 2012, I think it was, you only became aware of that after the event?”

Noonan: “Yeah, I got a PQ [Parliamentary Question] in April and then I got briefed on it but there was a series of concerns about the relationship between IBRC and the Department of Finance at the time. And I had a number of meetings and, at one meeting, I was extensively briefed on issues from renumeration to new appointments of directors, to senior management and the Siteserv issue was an issue of concern as well.”

Dobson: “So why were you left in the dark? Was it that you didn’t ask the right questions, you didn’t say to the people in charge of IBRC, ‘what’s going on here? keep me briefed?’”

Noonan: “No, it was the legal arrangement, when Anglo became IBRC, between the then minister and the authorities in IBRC was that they didn’t have to notify anything that was commercial. The idea was to keep the commercial decisions at a distance from the politicians.”

Dobson: “Right.”

Noonan: “Which is reasonable…”

Dobson: “Even though it was the taxpayers’ interest that was at stake here.”

Noonan: “It’s a reasonable thing to do but, you know, I found that I needed more information then I was getting automatically so I actually subsequently changed the framework so that they had to notify any transactions over €100million.”

Dobson: “What your officials were saying to you and they were expressing concerns about this deal at the time and what they were saying is that you should have gone to the chairman of the IBRC and said, ‘I want an independent review of this transaction’ to get to the bottom of what happened. You didn’t. Why not?”

Noonan: “Well, that was the essence of it, but really what it was was important meetings. I’d have a kind of a note to remind me of the main issues and, in that note, the advice was to put it to Alan Dukes, who was the chairman, to have an outside inquiry into the transaction. But in the course of the meeting, Alan Dukes told me that he had got the board of IBRC to do a full review and that the board had assured him, and he was assuring me, that what happened was in the best interest of the State and consequently of the taxpayer.”

Dobson: “But the board carrying out a review is very different to an independent review.”

Noonan: “Yes but to say you could review something if there was a possibility of changing anything but all transactions were complete. There was no legal possibility of a reversal and I trusted Alan Dukes.”

Dobson: “But presumably accountability is also important here. That people know what went on and why because there were aspects of this deal, your own officials raised questions about it, for example, that the shareholders in the company Siteserv, which was bust, were paid €5million.”

Noonan:I had a meeting where Alan Dukes came in as chairman, Michael Aynsley came in as chief executive and we went through the issues and the conclusion of that was an assurance from the chairman, on behalf of the board, that everything was done properly and not only done properly but was the best result possible for the Irish taxpayers and that’s minuted. And I accepted that. Otherwise I’d have problems with allowing the board to continue. And…”

Dobson: “Did you get answers to the questions, for example, as to why some potential bidders were excluded from the process. I think one French company said they were willing to offer €60million for this company whereby it was sold for €45million.”

Noonan: “There was a series of allegations made before and after I had the meeting. But, in general terms, the deal was the deal and I was assured that the components of the deal were necessary to get the best result for the taxpayer and, you know, there was independent advice as well to the board of IBRC and they concluded the deal and…”

Dobson: “And the best deal for the taxpayer included €5million for the shareholders in a bust company?

Noonan:The view on that was that this was an essential component, or the advice was that the shareholders wouldn’t have concluded the deal otherwise and the longer it went on, the more the taxpayer were losing because the company was going downhill”

Dobson: “There are more documents, I think, to be released tomorrow [today] under Freedom of Information, we believe in the Irish Times. Will they address something else that’s referred to in the documents that had been released, that Siteserv wasn’t the only deal about which there was concern within your department?”

Noonan: “There was a lot of concerns about different issues and these will be recited in tomorrow’s, in tomorrow’s release, under Freedom of Information but everything that people are saying about Siteserv now were the issues that I was briefed on when I had a series of meetings and one in particular with the chairman and the chief executive of the company.”

Dobson: “OK well more to come on this…”

Noonan: “More to come tomorrow, yeah.”

Dobson: “Minister Noonan, thank you very much.”

Watch here

Yesterday: Throwing Alan Under The Bus

Previously: Siteserv on Broadsheet

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Former IBRC chief and FIne Gael leader Alan Dukes (top) and Enda Kenny in the Dail this morning taking siteserv questions from Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams.

You want Senior Hurling?

There you go now.

Earlier: Are You Satisfied?

Previously: Siteserv And The Bank That Liked To Say Yes

Contains Impurities

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This morning.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan at the Convention centre, Dublin this morning for a Ireland Strategic Investment Fund event overshadowed by questions over the Denis O’Brien/IBRC/ Siteserv deal.

Meanwhile…

Minister for Communications Alex White has said it is not for him to say whether there should be an inquiry into the IBRC sale of construction company Siteserv to a company owned by businessman Denis O’Brien.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr White said he had not had an opportunity to discuss information obtained through a Freedom of Information request with Minister for Finance Michael Noonan.

He noted that the bank itself and its former chairman Alan Dukes had said the best deal possible was obtained and he had no reason to disagree.

Noonan ‘satisfied’ with action he took over the SiteServ sale (Newstalk)

Minister unsure on inquiry into Siteserv sale (Newstalk)

(Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland)

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From top: Catherine Murphy and Denis O’Brien

Further to this.

You may be aware of concerns regarding Siteserv, the business purchased by Denis O’Brien from IRBC with a write off of €100 million that was subsequently awarded the water meter contract.

Questions regarding many aspects of the deal raised by North Kildare TD Catherine Murphy elicted the following response from Siteserv today:

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Hmm.

Ms Murphy replied:

“This absolutely is agenda-driven, my agenda is always to serve the public interest and this deal involved a significant amount of public money being written off. This is very firmly in the public interest. There are questions surrounding the deal which I don’t believe have been adequately dealt with, questions which I, as a parliamentarian, have an obligation to raise.”

Meanwhile, during the Siteserv acquisition, it emerged that lawyers acting for Mr O’Brien’s side and IBRC came from the same firm, Arthur Cox.

Ms Murphy submitted a written question Minister for Finance Michael Noonan concerning this and other anomalies. To wit:

Has his  attention has been drawn to potential conflicts of interest, which existed at the time of the sale, by the former Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, of an entity; specifically if his attention has been drawn to the fact that agents, contracted by the Corporation, to execute the sale, also held significant interests in the entity being sold, that the legal advisors, on the sale, were acting for both the vendor, and purchaser, in the transaction, and that the reported agreed sale terms included a large payment to the board of the entity being sold, and whose votes were obviously required to approve the sale; if so, his views that this presents an alarming set of circumstances, to an entity tasked with protecting the taxpayers’ interests; and if he will make a statement on the matter?

This evening, Mr Noonan responded:

As the Deputy is aware, a Relationship Framework dated 8th July 2009 was in place at the time the Board of IBRC approved the sale of the company referred to in the question. Under this Relationship Framework, the Board of IBRC were required to engage with the Minister for Finance on certain key issues which included “any material acquisitions, disposals, investments, realisations or other transactions, other than in the ordinary course of Anglo Irish Bank’s banking business.” It should be noted that this Relationship Framework did not include any specific monetary thresholds which would trigger mandatory consultation with the Minister for Finance. It should also be noted, that at that time, the ordinary course of the Bank’s business was to conduct an orderly run-down and ultimate liquidation of the Bank. As such, IBRC’s efforts, as a secured lender, to maximise the recovery on its loans to the company referred to in the question was considered to be in the ordinary course of business. For that reason, and under the Relationship Framework in place at that time, IBRC were not required to consult with the Minister for Finance on this matter in advance of making the decision to approve the sale of the company referred to in the question.

Upon the receipt of critical representations following the transaction, Department of Finance officials inquired about the transaction with IBRC management as part of their regular engagement. Following initial discussions, they agreed with IBRC’s Chairman and CEO that they would review the transaction involving the company referred to in the question in greater detail to better understand the decisions taken and the impact these decisions had on the process and the final recovery for the bank.

Through this review, Department of Finance officials were made aware of certain aspects of the transaction which raised concerns with the quality of some of the decisions taken in respect of this transaction, including, among others, that legal advisors to the company referred to in the question had also acted for the purchaser, that a payment had been paid to the shareholders of the company referred to in the question, that some of those shareholders were members of the Board of the company referred to in the question and that a significant proportion of those shareholders appeared to be clients of the financial advisor on the transaction to the company referred to in the question.

In light of these concerns, I subsequently met with IBRC’s Chairman [Alan Dukes] and CEO [Mike Aynsley] to discuss concerns regarding this transaction. The Chairman and CEO confirmed to me the legal advice was provided by two different teams within the law firm concerned and that appropriate Chinese walls were in place between the two teams. They also assured me that the payment to shareholders was necessary to ensure a vote in favour of the deal . They further assured me that the transaction had been thoroughly assessed by the IBRC Board and that the transaction was managed in the best manner possible to achieve the best result for the State.

Good times.

Previously: Denis O’Brien, Fine Gael And The Water Meter Deal

Contains Impurities: The irish Water Timeline

 Pics: Photocall Ireland, Catherine Murphy

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Finance Minister Michael Noonan

Just being trolled at this stage.

“I don’t know, it is very hard to estimate, I mean some people are protesting because they don’t want to pay at all. But we govern for the centre, we govern for the reasonable people, and reasonable people were upset by the way in which this [protests in Tallaght on Saturday] was handled.”

Finance Minister Michael Noonan today.

Thanks for clarifying that.

Noonan: We govern for the reasonable people (BreakingNews.ie)

Earlier: Meanwhile, In Limerick

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The electronics department at Arnott’s, Dublin (top) and Michael Noonan (above), Minister for Finance in the Dáil this afternoon.

- Child Benefit to rise €5 per child
- New 8% USC rate for those earning over €70,000
- Entry point for USC raised to above €12,000
- Water Charges Relief “worth up to” €100
- Income tax relief on water charges “up to max” of €500
- 41% Income Tax rate reduced to 40%
- Price of 20 cigarettes to rise by 40c from midnight
- 9% VAT rate to stay
- ‘Double Irish’* tax arrangement to be abolished

More as he delivers it.

RTÉ Budget 2015 Live (RTÉ)

*Will not affect existing companies availing of the Double Irish until 2020.