Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Thursday, 11 October 2018
Public Accounts Committee
Business of Committee
If this was banking, it would be called "kiting". For example, if I owe €5,000 to Bank of Ireland and I have a €5,000 overdraft in Permanent TSB, I pay the cheque off that. When that is paid off, then I start paying off the Permanent TSB one and the money keeps going around in circles. If this was a bailout for Bord na gCon, it should be called that. Do not treat the people like fools and claim that this was worth €23 million. Pages 48 to 56 of the transcript of the meeting of 18 May 2017 contains the exchange on the valuation. Bord na gCon stated that it had received a valuation from Savills. Whether it was a red book valuation or one that was invoiced out at €10,000 plus VAT, companies like Savills are not going to risk their reputations over a Mickey Mouse fee, which is what that amount would be to it, by valuing it at €12 million and not referring to it as a formal valuation. A valuation is a valuation. It might not have been accompanied by the 50 pages and background material that accompany a full valuation, but neither was it a verbal or informal valuation of €12 million that then became €23 million. In fact, it would not even become €12.1 million.
This is a disgrace. This is Departments clearing up the sloppiness of organisations' debts. Arguably, Dublin City Council is implicated. It voted down a rezoning for the private sector. I am not saying that was right or wrong, but everyone was at the party.
My next point probably feeds into some of the matters that we will discuss with the OPW, but no one is paying the price. Consider how this was structured. If it was a State bailout of Bord na gCon, that is fine. Was the Minister involved, did he know and did the Government sanction it? If so, fair enough. Alternatively, was this creative accounting by officials on the premise that a school was needed in that area - of course it is - and here was the money to pay for it? A figure of €23 million? Forget it. I valued it. I do not have the experience of Savills, but zoned as it was, I think it amounted to €750,000 per acre. If it had the appropriate institutional zoning, that could have increased to €1.5 million in cost to the Department of Education and Skills. The Savills valuation was slightly higher than that at €12 million. I said at our previous meeting that, once Bord na gCon was prepared to supply it to us, we would see that the Savills valuation would be substantially less than €23 million. Although the witnesses told us that it was sensitive information because the deal had not yet been closed, I asked them to provide it to us for our examination. I assume it did not come.