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‘NO COMMENT’ SPOKESMAN REFUSES TO ANSWER QUESTIONS ON EVERYONE’S LIPS


The Sunday Independent posed the following questions to Minister of State for Small Business John Perry but he refused to comment. A spokesman said: “As this matter currently remains before the courts, Minister Perry will be making no comment.”

In relation to the loan Mr Perry agreed with Bank of Ireland to help pay his outstanding tax bill of approximately €100,000, what security – if any – was provided to the Bank of Ireland?

• Why did Mr Perry tell Danske Bank officials that he was friends with Bank of Ireland chief executive Richie Boucher? What would this have to do with any decision the bank would make on extending credit to him? Did he expect it to make a difference?

• Why did Mr Perry meet Danske officials in his Dail office? Did he not consider this to be an inappropriate use of that office? Did he think a meeting held in a minister’s office would in any way influence Danske Bank officials in their treatment of him?

• Can Mr Perry explain his remark to Danske Bank officials on January 31 last, where he accused them of being engaged in a form of bullying? Why did he go on to ask the bank’s officials if they treated all their customers in the same way? Does he consider it appropriate to have referred to the bank’s relations with other customers given his position as a government minister?

via ‘NO COMMENT’ SPOKESMAN REFUSES TO ANSWER QUESTIONS ON EVERYONE’S LIPS – Independent.ie.

Anglo Irish Bank- Drumm’s safe haven in the US could be under threat


FORMER Anglo Irish Bank CEO David Drumm‘s safe haven in the United States could be under threat.

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This comes amid a call on Finance Minister Michael Noonan to seek the assistance of powerful US stock market watchdog, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), to probe the bank’s activities in the period leading up to the 2008 crash. Anglo Irish Bank sought to raise $10bn in fresh funding off the back of a medium-term bond offering in July 2008.

While the bond itself was not made available for purchase by US citizens, it was offered to qualified institutional investors through an investment prospectus filed with the Washington DC-based SEC on July 17, 2008.

In the course of the prospectus, Anglo Irish Bank provided potential investors in the bond with financial information drawn from both its 2007 annual report and unaudited figures for the period leading up to March 31, 2008.

In a note accompanying the numbers, the bank stated specifically that the information contained in its prospectus was “in accordance with the facts” and did “not omit anything likely to affect the import of such information”.

That declaration and the figures provided by the bank are now open to question in light of damning revelations about the bank’s activities contained in the notorious Anglo tapes published by the Irish Independent and Sunday Independent in recent weeks.

Fianna Fail finance spokesman Michael McGrath last night called on Mr Noonan to ask the SEC to investigate the bank’s activities.

“Looking at it in the light of all the information that has come into the public domain, questions do need to be asked about the quality of the information Anglo provided in the investment prospectus it produced in the summer of 2008 as it tried to shore up its position. It is immaterial whether or not the bank actually managed to raise the funding,” Mr McGrath told the Sunday Independent.

And as we now know from last week’s revelations in the Irish Independent, by November 2007, two of the bank’s most senior officers were already talking about finding an international analyst to try to put a positive spin on Anglo’s rapidly declining finances.

Mr McGrath added: “Given that Anglo Irish Bank filed the prospectus for its $10bn bond in the United States in July 2008, I would ask the Finance Minister Michael Noonan to make contact with the SEC to explore the possibility of an investigation now being initiated in the US. If Mr Drumm cannot be compelled to return here, perhaps he can be called to account in his new home. Such an investigation could be facilitated by our own Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) given the powers it has under the companies acts to work in co-operation with overseas regulatory authorities. The SEC also enjoys this power.”

via Drumm’s safe haven in the US could be under threat – Independent.ie.

Martin wants Moriarty reopened, Taoiseach says Tribunal’s work is finished


FIANNA FÁIL LEADER Micheál Martin plans to call on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to reopen a module of Moriarty Tribunal for a three month period to allow it to examine new allegations concerning the Tipperary TD Michael Lowry.

Martin has said that information contained in a recording of a conversation between the former Fine Gael minister and property agent Kevin Phelan over details of a €250,000 payment “raises some very serious questions”.

“Primary among them is whether a central module of the Moriarty Tribunal was compromised by an effort to co-ordinate the evidence of key witnesses,” Martin said in a statement first printed in the Sunday Independent and provided to TheJournal.ie today.

The Taoiseach has already ruled out reopening the Tribunal and speaking in New York today he said that Justice Moriarty had reported “fully and finally” according to Newstalk.

The conversation between Lowry and Phelan is said to have taken place on 20 September 2004 and concerns a €250,000 payment to Phelan which Lowry pleaded with Phelan not to reveal as the independent TD had “never declared it”.

In a statement released following first publication of a transcript of the conversation in the Sunday Independent three weeks ago, Lowry insisted that the payment was “properly recorded and accounted for” through one of his companies.

He has since refused to confirm the authenticity of the tape recording and claimed he has been unable to obtain a copy of the tape from the Sunday Independent, which broke the story.

This contradicts claims from the paper which details attempts to get a copy of the conversation to Lowry in today’s edition.

‘Proximity’

Martin said that TV3 had been “inexplicably alone among Irish broadcasters” in broadcasting the audio recording of the conversation last Thursday night and said that the case for re-examining evidence presented to the Moriarty Tribunal had been emboldened.

In 2011, the Tribunal found that Lowry exerted an “insidious and pervasive influence” on the process of awarding a mobile telephone license to the Denis O’Brien’s company Esat Digifone.

However it made limited findings on matters concerning the sale of Doncaster Rovers Football Club, which involved Phelan, due to “suppression” of evidence. Both Lowry and O’Brien have rejected the findings of the Tribunal.

Martin said of the recording played on TV3: “The nuances which emerge, absent from the written transcript, add to the fear that the Tribunal’s work may have been compromised.”

The Fianna Fáil leader said that the reluctance of the Taoiseach to investigate the new allegations surrounding Lowry was “understandable” given “the proximity” he and other ministers have to the events which led to the Tribunal.

But he said that Labour’s silence is a “a stark reminder of that party’s weakness”.

He continued: “No political party in this country can point to an unblemished past, but those of us who want to build a better quality of politics for the future have a duty to speak out on this issue.

“Fine Gael and the Labour Party were elected with a record majority on a long list of promises. At the top of that list was a promise to change the way we practice politics.

“In that spirit, I will next week call on the Taoiseach to agree to have the specific module of the Moriarty Tribunal reopened for a period of three months to allow Judge Moriarty examine the new material that has emerged since he reported two years ago.

“If Fine Gael meant a word of what it said about the need for change, and if the Labour Party has a shred of integrity left, I expect unanimous support for this call.”

via Martin wants Moriarty reopened, Taoiseach says Tribunal’s work is finished.

via Martin wants Moriarty reopened, Taoiseach says Tribunal’s work is finished.

 

Poll shows Labour Party support below 10%


17% of people satisfied with Labour leader and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore

Support for the Labour Party has dipped below 10%, according to the latest opinion poll.

Independents and smaller parties have also lost ground, with Fianna Fáil benefitting.

The Millward Brown poll for tomorrow’s Sunday Independent also found that just one voter in five is satisfied with the Government’s performance.

The poll of 985 voters was conducted over ten days finishing last Thursday.

It will be published just two weeks since its last poll for the Sunday Independent.

There is a very high level of ‘undecideds’ – 32% – but when they are excluded, Fine Gael is up one to 25%.

While the slide in Labour support continues – the party is down two to just 9%.

Fianna Fáil is back in the lead, up six points to 29%; while Sinn Féin drops one to 20%; and Independents and others are down four points in two weeks to 17%

Just 20% – one in five – say they are satisfied with the way the Government is running the country; 74% are dissatisfied.

Among the party leaders, 26% are satisfied with the performance of the Fine Gael Taoiseach, 17% with the Labour Tánaiste, 36% with Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin, and 28% with Gerry Adams of Sinn Féin.

via Poll shows Labour Party support below 10% – RTÉ News.

via Poll shows Labour Party support below 10% – RTÉ News.

Phil Hogan’s and His Big Mouth


 

Phil Hogan, the Environment Minister, has branded the Sunday Independent and another newspaper as “knackers” and threatened to “put manners” on them for publishing pictures of himself and his now former press secretary in Doha on Budget day.

Last Thursday, Mr Hogan accused the  Indo of engaging in a “disgraceful game” and threatened: “We will put manners on you.” Mr Hogan was reacting to coverage of himself in recent months.

Rich considering The cheapest room in the hotel is 605 euro which is an outrage when he is standing over cuts to the blind and disabled.

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When I saw the picture at first glance I thought it was Fidelma Healy Eames and said Oh Jesus not her again

The 10-strong Irish party that attended included Hogan’s press secretary, Yvonne Hyland, the woman pictured with him on the front page.

 

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His little finger is definitely on the rump area.- Oh Dear Maybe they’re really good friends?

Well he is doing no worse that Bertie, Biffo and co.

But I recall Mr Hogan was a very strong opponent of cronyism when Fianna Fail were in power.

Amazing they way people change their mind when they get power,

Hogan could cross over to FF and they would be at home in there lot

 

Yvonne Hyland was a former P.R person for F.G before she became press secretary to big mouth Hogan. Was she hired because of he skills and suitability for the job or was she hired for other reasons?  I bet her interview was a real tough one. A lady on 83k a year whose job was to insure no bad PR and no unwanted photos!!!  A lady of amazing abality

 

Money well spent. I doubt it

The woman that big Phil was pictured cosying up to in Qatar has since left her position.

Ahhh.

What happened there…. they seemed to be getting on quite well.

Half of voters feel a new political party is needed


Fifty per cent of voters now feel there is a need for a new political party on foot of broken election promises and widespread disillusionment with the Government, a new nationwide opinion poll reveals.

An undeniable feeling of discontent among voters has fuelled calls for a new party to be established, while angry voters are calling for the Government to rein in excessive pay and pensions in the bailed-out banks.

According to the latest Sunday Independent MillwardBrown nationwide opinion poll, conducted this month, the desire for a new party is strongest among women voters, young to middle-aged voters and those living in Connacht and Ulster or from poorer backgrounds.

Former Tanaiste Michael McDowell, writing in today’s Sunday Independent, says that falling satisfaction with the Government and the fact that the coalition partners have “fallen out of love” are driving factors behind the calls for a new party.

“There is at least 25 per cent of the electorate which would opt for a new party as an alternative to another term for the present coalition and as an alternative to a Fianna Fail/Sinn Fein coalition backed by the remnants of Labour,” he said.

Mr McDowell is predicting that while FG will lead the next government he thinks Labour will not be in power with them, and there is room in the gap for a new party.

“I cannot see any possibility of an overall majority FG government after the next election. It seems to me that many people in middle Ireland would support the formation of a new party which would give Ireland the opportunity to have a new government which would not include the Labour Party,” he adds.

According to the poll, 38 per cent of voters feel there is no need for a new political party, with opposition to the proposal higher among males, those aged over 55 and Dubliners, with many feeling a new party would not be able to offer any real change, given the country’s financial woes and our electoral system.

If don’t knows were to be excluded, a majority of voters feel there is a need for a new party.

When asked what strategies the Government should prioritise in 2013, 50 per cent of those polled said they want the Coalition to be more assertive when dealing with the issue of “bankers’ pay, pensions and lending policies”.

The drip feed of revelations about activities at the top of the banks, which to date have received €64bn of taxpayers’ money in capitalisation, have fuelled calls for more decisive action from Finance Minister Michael Noonan from the elderly and voters outside Dublin.

Voters are also frustrated with the lack of progress in terms of progressing Ireland’s bank debt deal with 23 per cent saying the Government should adopt a tougher approach when dealing with the troika, as a top priority.

Speaking this weekend, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said once the IBRC promissory note is restructured ahead of the March 31 deadline, he is expecting agreement on a deal by June on the cost of capitalising the “pillar banks”.

Mr Kenny said a full deal is not likely until 2014 after the necessary European structures are in place, but a signal will be crucial to enable Ireland to exit the bailout at the end of 2013.

“So while an actual transaction may not be possible until 2014 a clear signal of how this is going to be done will certainly strengthen market confidence and lower interest rates for Ireland,” he said.

– DANIEL McCONNELL Chief Reporte

via Half of voters feel a new political party is needed – National News – Independent.ie.

via Half of voters feel a new political party is needed.

US trader’s punt on Irish bonds may net €4.75bn profit


MICHAEL Hasenstab, the star trader at €700bn fund manager Franklin Templeton, which now owns 10 per cent of Ireland’s debt, may make a profit of as much as €4.75bn on his staggering gamble on Irish bonds.

In a ballsy move backed up with hard cash, Hasenstab has taken an extraordinary contrarian bet against the market by backing Ireland.

It is a daring €8.1bn gamble that is looking so lucrative it could make an extra chapter in the Michael Lewis best-seller The Big Short, where traders made billions betting against sub-prime mortgages at the start of the financial crisis.Hasenstab’s €8.1bn investment on Irish bonds is the biggest private punt on this country’s future. Bond analysts have told the Sunday Independent that – subject to certain assumptions – Hasenstab could make as much as €4.75bn in profit if he holds the bonds until they mature.

The bonds could generate nominal interest returns of €3.7bn on top of capital returns of around €1.045bn, based on current market rates. It is thought that the trader is already sitting on paper profits of around €1.53bn.

Fears that such a concentrated ownership of Irish bonds could be destablising were dismissed by NTMA boss John Corriganlast week.

Corrigan said he “would prefer if we had 10 Franklin Templetons, rather than one,” adding that an early and large-scale sale by the firm was unlikely.

“The idea that they could exit in size from before those bonds fall for maturity would be self-defeating,” said Corrigan. He added: “Clearly, Franklin Templeton, in their own terms, have placed a big bet – so to speak – on Ireland.”

Bond analysts have told this newspaper that Hasenstab would only net a paper profit of €1.8bn if he offloaded his entire position this week. His bonds may have generated coupon payments of up to €270m, according to their calculations.

Writing to Franklin Templeton clients, Hasenstab notes: ” I believe the Irish model could be an ideal prescription for problems in the other parts of Europe.

“What has been happening in Ireland is positive. The country, despite facing great adversity, continues to make progress on fiscal reform and is increasingly getting recognition as a model for other countries.

“It can be summarised as a pro-growth and pro-austerity package, where growth is facilitated through structural reforms and competitiveness and austerity is facilitated through fiscal responsibility, which Ireland has put forth and executed well.

“While there is still progress that needs to be made, the fact that Ireland was able to regain (international bond) market access after years of not being able to, is a clear sign that it is getting credit for a lot of the progress it has made.”

Hasenstab believes that conditions will remain grim in Europe for quite some time. However, he strongly believes that the eurozone will not break up.

Meanwhile, the IMF/EU/ ECB troika may be considering providing a “precautionary credit line” for Ireland as we seek to exit the bailout programme in a year’s time.

The troika is examining a number of options associated with Ireland’s exit from the formal bailout programme, with a document due to be presented to the Government.

“Presumably, one of the items in the paper could be a credit line,” NTMA boss John Corrigan told Bloomberg.

via US trader’s punt on Irish bonds may net €4.75bn profit – Irish, Business – Independent.ie.

via US trader’s punt on Irish bonds may net €4.75bn profit – Irish, Business – Independent.ie.

 

UK taxman to probe Quinn’s spending bills – Irish, Business – Independent.ie


Former billionaire had ‘no recollection’ of getting €1m

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is investigating millions spent by former billionaire Sean Quinn Snr using his credit card, flying his company jet and helicopter, and other benefits-in-kind he may have received leading the Quinn Group.

The probe by the UK taxman is looking at Quinn’s spending over the five years 2005 to 2010 as it attempts to determine what personal perks the now bankrupt entrepreneur availed of and if tax was payable on them.

The Sunday Independent has previously revealed how Quinn paid for items from wedding cakes to premium sports TV subscription bills to the mortgage on his home by putting the bill through his company’s books. James Morrissey, a former spokesperson for Mr Quinn, previously described such payments as “commonplace in business”. The decision by HM Revenue to submit numerous questions to Mr Quinn’s official assignee in bankruptcy, Chris Lehane, suggests it may not agree.

It has already delivered a discovery assessment setting out its concerns to Mr Lehane who in turn has asked Mr Quinn for his response.

Mr Quinn has responded at length but said he was hampered in his response by both lack of professional qualifications and the fact that his former empire, the Quinn Group, now had all his records.

“Down over the years, I always concentrated on building the Quinn Group business at a high level and I never got involved in the detail of my personal tax affairs,” Mr Quinn told Mr Lehane. Mr Quinn said he relied on his group’s accounts department and his auditors/tax advisers PWC to take care of such matters.

“I invariably took it for granted that those involved would ensure that all of my tax affairs were fully in order each year and I never had any reason to doubt that the situation would be otherwise,” Mr Quinn wrote.

Mr Lehane also quizzed Mr Quinn on what his income actually was. Mr Quinn said he believed he earned £75,000 a year from 2007 and 2010, a minuscule sum relative to the size of the group. Mr Lehane said he believed from analysis of Mr Quinn’s tax returns that he was effectively earning between €142,000 and €453,000 during these years.

Mr Lehane also queried an apparent payment of €1m to Mr Quinn from Quinn Quarrying and Concrete (QQC) which he said had been made in 2004. Mr Quinn said he had “no recollection,” of being paid €1m by QQC in 2004 and that this payment “seems absolutely outrageous”.

“I have no idea as to how this amount was arrived at,” Mr Quinn said.

Mr Quinn said he had no records of his company jet and helicopter usage as these were held by the Quinn Group, which he no longer controlled.

“In general terms, I can state that my usage of the company jet and helicopter was in the course of company business,” Mr Quinn said. Mr Quinn said he took only seven to 10 days’ holiday a year and these were “always company related”, as he scoured the world for new ideas or investment opportunities.

Mr Quinn said to the best of his recollection, he only used his credit card for “company business”, so he did not believe he had to reimburse it anything from his personal funds. Mr Quinn said he was unable to comment on whether he had taken any director’s loans as he did not have access to the group’s records.

“I never took any interest in how much I was paid personally by the Quinn Group of companies, and strange as it may seem, I had little or no regard for my personal wealth as an individual down through the years,” Mr Quinn said. He said he believed claims and assessments by HMRC would be shown to have “no proper foundation and are based on information that may have been supplied to them for whatever reasons”.

Tom Lyons

via UK taxman to probe Quinn’s spending bills – Irish, Business – Independent.ie.

via UK taxman to probe Quinn’s spending bills – Irish, Business – Independent.ie.

Government fears Troika will gun for Croke Park – National News – Independent.ie


Troika will warn that “Croke Park is not working” when they conclude their eighth review of the bailout agreement, scheduled to begin next week.

These Government fears have not been eased by the intent of the Troika to focus on overspending in the Department of Health.

Such is the level of unhappiness within the Troika over the chaotic state of the Department’s finances that speculation was rife at the heart of Government that Minister for Health James Reilly would be personally cross-examined by the Troika.

Such a development would represent the first time a front-line minister from the three big spending ministries of Social Protection, Education and Health would directly meet the Troika.

To date, contacts between ministers and the Troika have been confined to the Brendan Howlin and Michael Noonan.

Though a spokesperson from the Department of Health said they were “not aware” of any such meeting, the Sunday Independent was told by senior figures close to Government that the Troika has become unhappy over the “peculiar” Irish situation where they only meet Ministers Howlin or Noonan, while other ministers are “corralled” away from the grouping.

In other bailout countries, the Troika meets ministers from all departments, but, in what was described by one source as “another example of the micro-management where Gilmore, Kenny, Noonan, Howlin and their Economic Management Council have to control everything” there has been “deliberate civil service and political resistance over letting Reilly, Quinn and Burton near the troika”.

However senior political sources told the Sunday Independent that the Troika has become increasingly impatient with the scenario where instead “of meeting ministers, they are being fobbed off by Father Sean [Healy] Richard Boyd Barrett , Sinn Fein and various others.”

One senior source claimed the Troika has been “spooked by Reilly. They’re starting to believe they are being given the run-around.

“Reilly is the sacrificial lamb, the boldest boy in class but they’re equally concerned at the hollowness in the centre of Government, a perceived lack of leadership.”

The Sunday Independent has also learnt that within the Government “from the Taoiseach down there is more nervousness about this Troika visit than any other one”

via Government fears Troika will gun for Croke Park – National News – Independent.ie.

via Government fears Troika will gun for Croke Park – National News – Independent.ie.

Reilly forced to sell €5m site for just €750,000 – N


Indebted Health Minister invested in plot to set up primary care centre at the height of the boom

HEALTH Minister James Reilly has been forced to sell off an estimated €5m site he bought at the height of the property boom for the knockdown price of €750,000, the Sunday Independent can reveal.

The indebted minister put the 1.3-acre site beside the Airside Retail Park in Swords, Co Dublin, on sale — just a month before he was named in Stubbs Gazette — after his plans to develop a HSE Primary Care Centre on the land fell through.

via Reilly forced to sell €5m site for just €750,000 – National News – Independent.ie.

via Reilly forced to sell €5m site for just €750,000 – National News – Independent.ie.

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