Sunday, 14 March 2010

Untangling the docklands web

The Comptroller & Auditor General will not be called in to look at the activities of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority, Taoiseach Brian Cowen decided last week, by refusing to sanction the move. The docklands was one of the playgrounds of the Celtic Tiger, and Neil Callanan outlines the links between the banks, the developers and the businessmen involved:

Lar Bradshaw
Seán Dunne
Bernard McNamara
Liam Carroll
Johnny Ronan
Paddy McKillen
Declan Quinlan


Current DDDA chairwoman Niamh Brennan has said that because of Anglo's influence, the DDDA "became very focused on development and used planning to facilitate and encourage development". The "association between Anglo and the DDDA has not served the authority well".

Gerry McCaughey -DDDA

Businessman McCaughey had barely started as chairman of the DDDA last year when he decided to step down after it was leaked that he took advantage of a loophole to legally reduce his tax liability when he sold his building company, Century Homes, in 2005.

Gerry McCaughey -Anglo

McCaughey is suing Anglo Irish Bank in relation to an investment fund that was set up by the bank to purchase and refurbish two hotels in New York. The bank claimed McCaughey was the "ringleader" behind claims of fraudulent representation and concealment against the bank and one of its subsidiaries.

Anglo-Quinlan, Paddy McKillen

McKillen invested in several properties with Quinlan's private equity management company, Quinlan Private. Anglo Irish Bank financed a number of the purchases. Sources in London say the two men were the main investors in the Asprey building at Bond Street there, which sold recently.

DDDA-Seán FitzPatrick, Lar Bradshaw, Donal O'Connor

Brennan has criticised the cross-directorships between the DDDA and Anglo Irish Bank. Former Anglo director Lar Bradshaw was the first chairman of the DDDA, former Anglo chief executive Seán FitzPatrick was on the board of the DDDA, and after Donal O'Connor became chairman of the DDDA he was invited to join the board of Anglo, which he accepted. After the bank was nationalised, O'Connor became its chairman and stepped down from the DDDA to ensure there was no suggestion of a conflict of interest. It was confirmed in recent days that he is to step down from the board of the bank later this year.

Lar Bradshaw and Seán Fitzpatrick

The two were on the board of the DDDA and Anglo. Both resigned from Anglo after it emerged FitzPatrick had hidden €87m of loans with the bank, transferring them to Irish Nationwide. Bradshaw resigned because one of his loans, held with Fitzpatrick, was temporarily transferred.

DDDA-Seán Dunne

Dunne took the DDDA to court after it gave the go-ahead for the Anglo headquarters buildings on the north docks on land adjoining a small site owned by him. The High Court took Dunne's side, saying the DDDA acted ultra vires in relation to the planning for the building. Dunne also developed the office block let to Matheson Ormsby Prentice in the docklands and The Bloodstone office block there.

Paul Coulson-Lar Bradshaw and Seán Fitzpatrick

Coulson, Bradshaw and FitzPatrick are among the investors in Balcuik, which owns the Atrium office buildings in Sandyford, Dublin, acquired for more than €95m. Other investors in Balcuik include Smurfit's Gary McGann, a former Anglo director.

Paul Coulson-Bernard McNamara and Derek Quinlan and the DDDA

Coulson's Ardagh found a loophole in the lease on its site in Poolbeg and subsequently agreed a deal with Dublin Port that it would take two-thirds of the proceeds when the site was sold. The land was then placed into a separate vehicle called South Wharf and put on the market. The DDDA contacted Bernard McNamara about a joint bid for the site and Quinlan also came on board. They bid €412m to win the tender with more than €30m subsequently spent on cleaning up the toxic site. Coulson and his fellow South Wharf shareholders earned €273.6m from the sale. The site is now worth €50m.

DDDA-Bernard McNamara

McNamara has taken a legal action against the DDDA over the terms of the Irish Glass Bottle site deal. McNamara developed the Longboat Quay scheme in the docks.

Liam Carroll-Seán Dunne

Dunne took a legal action to stop work on the Anglo Irish Bank headquarters building after mediation efforts by him failed. He wants the part-completed structure torn down.

Seán Mulryan-Seán Dunne

Mulryan and Dunne developed much of Charlesland outside Greystones together and have significant land interests there.

DDDA-Liam Carroll

Carroll owned a significant amount of land in the docklands, redeveloping the old gasworks into an area colloquially known as Googleland; the former gasometer became an apartment block and later attempts were made to turn it into a hotel. He held talks with the DDDA in relation to a joint development of the U2 tower site and an adjoining site where he planned to develop a skyscraper, and went so far as to draw up a draft legal agreement in 2005 setting out the development plans for the sites. He planned to develop a domestic financial services centre at North Wall Quay for Anglo, AIB and Bank of Ireland but his plans fell apart when the financial crisis hit and the High Court ruled that the Anglo headquarters could not be completed.

Anglo-Bernard Mcnamara

Anglo funded several of McNamara's developments but the relationship was deeper than that. The bank held an 89% stake in office buildings at Great Minster North and Finsbury Dials in London which had "been sourced, negotiated and secured" by a company owned by McNamara, which owned the remainder. The bank bought the buildings as part of a "high-risk" property fund it set up just before the property market began to collapse.

Anglo-Liam Carroll

As well as funding the headquarters building earmarked for Anglo Irish Bank at Dublin's north docks, the bank went to Liam Carroll looking for additional space on the top of the building, only six weeks after Anglo's share price was hammered in the so-called Saint Patrick's Day massacre.


Quinlan's Quinlan Private bought the Knightsbridge Estate in London for £540m with backing from Anglo Irish Bank. Investors included McKillen and McNamara. Part of the complex is now on the market with Lafico, the company set up by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, among the bidders.

Treasury Holdings-Paddy McKillen

Johnny Ronan of Treasury and Paddy McKillen invested in a number of properties together in the early 1990s including the Temple Bar Hotel, the Treasury Building and the Pepper Canister office complex in Dublin. They also had other business interests together.

DDDA-Treasury Holdings

Treasury Holdings is involved in the Spencer Dock development in Dublin's north quays and, through the company that is developing that scheme, took a legal action against the DDDA in 2008 in relation to the planning granted for the Anglo headquarters building.


U2's Bono and the Edge, McKillen and financier Derek Quinlan own the Clarence hotel in Dublin which they planned to redevelop before shelving the project. The Edge and Quinlan also own sites in Malibu.

DDDA-Paddy McKillen, Ballymore and U2

The DDDA eventually struck a deal with developer and retailer Paddy McKillen, Seán Mulryan's Ballymore and U2 themselves to develop the U2 tower. However, the agreement now looks set to be axed after the collapse in the property market, meaning the Norman Foster-designed tower earmarked for the site may never be built.

Sunday Tribune

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