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Dáil hears new claims about Denis O'Brien's dealings with IBRC

Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty said the businessman made three attempts to extend loan agreements with the liquidators of IBRC before a fourth attempt was accepted.

THE DÁIL HAS heard new claims about businessman Denis O’Brien’s dealings with IBRC, the former Anglo Irish Bank, after it was liquidated in February 2013.

Source: Video TheJournal.ie/YouTube

In a lengthy speech to the house, Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty said Denis O’Brien made three attempts to extend loan agreements with the liquidators of IBRC before a fourth attempt was accepted after the loans expired on 30 June 2013.

“From documents I have seen it appears that IBRC’s former chief executive, Mike Aynsley, along with Richard Woodhouse, made a verbal agreement with Denis O’Brien to give him an additional three years to pay off his loans with the bank,” Doherty told the Dáil.

Doherty cited documents that have come into his possession in recent days.

He said he has passed these to the Taoiseach and that the matters he has raised would not be covered by the Commission of Investigation set up to examine certain IBRC loans.

Doherty told the Dáil that in 2012, O’Brien had an agreement with IBRC whereby the bank “would receive 92.02% of all Digicel dividends in excess of $50 million” as part of a loan repayment agreement.

“In that same year, 2012, there was a once-off dividend distribution of 300 million dollars. The bank received a scheduled payment of €150 million, which equated to 65% of the dividend distribution,” Doherty said.

“The balance was then used by Denis O’Brien to pay down a Bank of Ireland facility which had been used to fund the Siteserv deal. This was approved by the IBRC’s Group Credit Committee.

So, in other words, we know that IBRC sold Siterserv to Denis O’Brien. We know that Denis O’Brien had major loans with IBRC, and its seems that the terms of the loan agreement with IBRC were used by Denis O’Brien to pay down the loan that he received from Bank of Ireland to purchase Siteserv in the first place.

Doherty said he had seen letters and documents which outlined details of O’Brien’s loans with IBRC with four different proposals for extensions to these loans after the bank was liquidated on 7 February 2013.

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 19.55.42 Pearse Doherty in the Dáil this evening

With three of these proposals having been rejected by the ‘group credit committee’, the loan expired on 30 June.

With no loan extension agreed, Doherty said it appeared O’Brien faced the possibility of having his loan sold to a third party.

The Sinn Féin TD explained what is alleged to have happened next:

In August [2013], Denis O’Brien met with the case team and at this meeting the documents say he made it clear that he had a verbal agreement with Richard Woodhouse and with Michael Aynsley which pre-dated the liquidation of IBRC.
The documents say that Denis O’Brien said that this verbal agreement allowed him to repay his loans over a three-year period beginning in 2012. It was his view, and the view of his lawyers, that this verbal agreement stood, even though the bank was now in liquidation.
In September 2013, Denis O’Brien and his advisers met with the Special Liquidators at which they made it clear they would not commit to any capital repayment for a 12 month extension.
The documents also say that Denis O’Brien made it known, through his advisors, that he was not prepared to enter into the process of having his loans sold with an expired loan facility and so was likely to issue protective legal proceedings seeking an order for specific performance which would require the Bank to honour the alleged three year term of his facilities.

File Photo THE HIGH COURT has granted billionaire businessman Denis O Brien an injunction blocking the broadcast of an RTE News item in which he features. Denis O'Brien Source: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Doherty said that following these meetings, and IBRC’s view of the threat of legal action, O’Brien made a fourth proposal to IBRC on 10 October 2013 for a 12-month extension to his loan with no capital repayments.

Doherty said this was the same proposal as the second proposal that had already been rejected.

This was approved on 14 November 2013, Doherty said. He said it was for a loan of in excess of €315 million with a margin interest rate of 3 per cent , amounting to €10 million per annum.

Doherty said this raised a number of “serious questions” and added:

How does a bank in liquidation create what is essentially a new and extended €315 million loan which in reality is just like a new loan, which its group credit committee had rejected just a number of months earlier?
Why didn’t IBRC place a call on the now expired loan? How did the verbal agreements between certain managers prior to liquidation outweigh the decision of the group credit committee?

He called for these matters to be considered by the Commission of Investigation.

Doherty pressed a Sinn Féin amendment to its terms of reference to allow the inquiry chair to investigate matters related to IBRC, including the involvement of the liquidators, up to March of this year.

Read: The opposition are worried the IBRC inquiry won’t be out until AFTER the election

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Hugh O'Connell

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