Commission looking into Siteserv sale extends investigation deadline by three months

Denis O'Brien. File photo

The first module of the commission of investigation into certain transactions at the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, most prominently the sale of utility company Siteserv to businessman Denis O’Brien, has had its deadline extended by three months until the end of September.

Previously Justice Brian Cregan, the High Court judge presiding over the investigation, last February requested an extension of the inquiry, which has been running since 2015, until the end of the year, but had that request denied.

Instead, the then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar extended until the end of June, citing the impact of Covid-19 and government formation talks as reasons, among others.

It now transpires that Mr Varadkar on June 25, two days prior to ceding office to Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin and becoming Tánaiste, granted a further extension to Justice Cregan until the end of September.

Speculation had been rife as to whether or not Justice Cregan would be in a position to report his Commission’s findings in time for the June deadline, which has now passed.

The Commission was first set up to investigate transactions which led to multi-million losses for the State-owned bank, which emerged from the ashes of what had been Anglo-Irish Bank in 2011.

Key to that investigation had been an investigation into the sale of Siteserv, now known as Actavo, to an Isle of Man company controlled by Mr O’Brien for €45m in 2012.

The total costs involved in running the Commission of inquiry have also been subject to scrutiny, with differing figures spoken of.

Its initial cost projection was €4m, with the most recent estimate rising to €14m. Mr Varadkar himself has suggested the final cost could be closer to €30m.

No interim conclusions have been proffered in any of the seven progress updates delivered by the Commission to date.

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