Sunday 26 April 2009

DDDA deals to be investigated

An Oireachtas committee will formally ask the Comptroller & Auditor General when it meets on Tuesday to investigate the dealings of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority. The cross-party committee on the environment, chaired by Fine Gael's Phil Hogan, wants the C&AG, John Buckley, to examine the DDDA's activities in the past four years, with particular reference to its two most controversial deals.

Hogan has also accused the DDDA's chief executive, Paul Maloney, of "misleading" his committee when he appeared before it in February and seemed to promise there would be no cuts in the authority's social, cultural and education budget. It later emerged a planned re­duction in the budget had been decided last December.

One of the deals the committee will refer to the C&AG for investigation is the €412m purchase in 2006 of the 24-acre site of the old Irish Glass Bottle factory in Poolbeg.

The DDDA is a 26% partner at a cost of €32.8m in the Becbay consortium planning to develop it, along with builder Bernard McNamara and financier Derek Quinlan.

Financing for its acquisition at a price more than €40m above its uppermost valuation at the time was provided by Anglo Irish Bank and AIB.

In 2007, the DDDA valued its quarter-share of the project at €117m but the entire site was valued this spring at no more than €125m and as little as €90m. The disgraced former chairman of Anglo Irish Bank, Sean FitzPatrick, was a board member of the DDDA and his fellow Anglo director Lar Bradshaw was its chairman when it took the unprecedented decision to become a partner in the project.

The second deal to be referred to the C&AG is the North Lotts site where developer Liam Carroll's plan, licensed by the DDDA, to build new headquarters for Anglo Irish Bank was scuppered by a successful High Court challenge by developer Sean Dunne. The project had been fast-tracked by the DDDA in July 2007.

Sunday Tribune

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