Wednesday 11 February 2009

Site worth two-thirds of the €17.2m-per-acre consortium paid for it, committee told

THE Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) and Anglo Irish Bank will meet next week to decide how much taxpayers will lose because of a €411 million speculative investment.

The DDDA owns a 26% stake in the former Irish Glass Bottle site in Poolbeg and is part of a consortium which still owes €293m to Anglo.

The authority’s chief executive Paul Maloney said the site is now worth less than two-thirds of the €17.2m-per-acre which the Becbay consortium paid for it.

And the Becbay consortium, which involves the DDDA, Quinlan Private and Bernard McNamara, is awaiting a revaluation before deciding what to do with the loan.

It has not revalued the site because it wants Anglo to pay for it. Mr Maloney said there is an outstanding sum but the fate of this rests on next week’s meetings.

Fine Gael’s Phil Hogan said given Mr Maloney’s revelations that Becbay did not pay interest on the loan in the second half of last year, Environment Minister John Gormley should investigate if the DDDA is still viable.

"With over eight months elapsing since the DDDA has been able to even pay interest on this loan, serious questions hang over its financial solvency," he said.

Mr Maloney made his comments at the Oireachtas committee on the Environment yesterday.

He denied Mr Hogan’s accusation that there had been a conflict of interest among the Anglo directors forced to resign before Christmas, who were involved in DDDA’s decision to buy the site.

Becbay took out the loan when Sean FitzPatrick was chairman of the DDDA’s finance committee and separately chair of Anglo.

And Lar Bradshaw was the chairman of the DDDA and non-executive director of Anglo.

The DDDA said both men had declared their interest and abstained from the meeting when the proposal to borrow the money from Anglo was made.

However, Mr Hogan read from the minutes of a subsequent meeting which showed Mr FitzPatrick and Mr Bradshaw were present when the decision was made to buy the site.

In another round of questioning Mr Maloney said he was glad the U2 tower did not go ahead before the economic downturn.

He said construction on tower blocks around Europe had been halted because of the credit crunch and he preferred to let the project wait until conditions were more favourable.

Mr Maloney said he still believed the tower would be built in the long term.

Irish Examiner

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