Finance advisor says he was ‘unfairly tarnished’ in Siteserve Commission report – The Irish Times
A key figure in the SiteServe case has accused the judge probing the deal of “errors and wrong decisions”, saying he was “unfairly tarnished” in a report on the company’s €45 million sale to businessman Dennis O’Brien. ” it was done.
Corporate finance consultant Walter Hobbs oversaw a 2012 transaction for the nationalized Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, which wrote off €119 million of the €150 million owed to SiteServ following the sale. A commission of inquiry was set up in 2015 following the Dell controversy over damages done by the state.
After a seven-year inquiry, Mr Justice Brian Cregan found in September that the sale was based on “misleading and incomplete information” that Siteserv had provided to the state-owned bank. The judge said the sale was so tainted by impropriety that it was not commercially sound.
But Mr Hobbs has challenged such findings, saying the state had been “injustised” by publishing the report because of “pervasive and fundamental” flaws in the conduct of the investigation and the judge’s conclusion.
[ Siteserv inquiry witnesses face large bills as judge imposes cap on legal costs State will shoulder ]
Among other issues, Mr. Hobbs criticized the commission for its lack of expertise and cited problems with the exclusivity given to Mr. O’Brien’s team in the sale negotiations, the conclusions about the commercial soundness of the deal and the conclusion that Siteserv Another € could feel. 8.7 million from sales.
He added that €4 million of the €8.7 million had been calculated from “fundamental errors” of understanding regarding the award of exclusivity. The remaining €4.7 million arose from a “mixture of error and speculation” by the Commission.
Mr Hobbs said he had suffered “immense and wholly unjustified damage” to his reputation in the Dáil debate over the report and said he had carried out his role professionally with “utmost competence, commitment and integrity”.
He wrote to the attorney general last August – weeks before the report was released – that publication should be stopped. “In my opinion, the inquiry was a debacle and the commission’s report fatally flawed.”
The Attorney General’s office replied saying that the questions were not a subject for it. John Shaw, a senior official in the Taoiseach’s department, wrote to Mr Hobbs five days after the report was released that the commission was independent.
[ Siteserv report stands as an unflinching indictment of highly questionable conduct in dark days of last financial crisis ]
Access to such records had been denied under the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act, but Mr Hobbs provided them to The Irish Times, saying the FoI decision was a surprise. “I feel that the matters raised are of public interest and I believe in transparency, therefore in the circumstances, I have decided to make these letters available,” he said.
Mr Hobbs replied to Mr Shaw on 15 September, disputing with what he said the department was “washing its hands” of the matter. “The report was published following notice by your department that there were serious problems in the conduct of the investigation and the drafting of the final report.”
The commission declined to comment when asked about Mr Hobbs’ correspondence.
The department said the Taoiseach had “no role or function” in relation to the conduct of the commission or the experts assisting its investigation. “These were matters which the Commission alone could decide,” it said.
“The Taoiseach published the Commission’s report on the SiteServe transactions in keeping with his statutory responsibilities as Minister designated for the Commission under the Commissions of Inquiry Act 2004.”