The Government has won the vote on the Siteserv motion in the Dáil 73 to 43.

Fianna Fáil put forward a motion calling for an independent commission of investigation into the sale of construction company Siteserv to businessman Denis O’Brien.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan told the Dáil this evening the Special Liquidators are best placed to undertake such a review thoroughly and expeditiously - given their access to all books and records of IBRC.

He said he was confident the review process was robust.

Minister Noonan said he wanted to stress that the review and report is to serve the public interest in light of recent speculation and is not being undertaken as the result of any evidence that such deficiencies existed or that transactions were not commercially sound.  

Independent Deputy Catherine Murphy, whose Freedom of Information requests initially raised concerns on the sale of Siteserv, said the proposed review was not just conflicted; it is simply not wide enough to give a true picture.

Deputy Murphy said it cannot be considered independent "no matter how much you stretch the imagination."

Department no involvement in Siteserv sale

The finance minister said the Department of Finance was not involved in the sale process of Siteserv or any of the decisions taken during the sale process. 

Mr Noonan said it was important to note that his department conducted a review of the transaction in June 2012 and so any concerns around the transaction "were not known by either me or my officials when answering PQs prior to June 2012".

He also told the Fianna Fáil members it was "your board, your chair, you appointed them".

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin said no one believed that the IBRC could ever get the full value of the assets they were selling.

He said the fact was the IBRC was dealing with "distressed assets" and was attempting to get the best value.

Mr Howlin said no one was suggesting that there was any wrongdoing by anyone involved in the Siteserv transaction.

He said the review established by the Minister for Finance was the best way to get all the facts in a speedy manner.

Deputy Murphy said various sources involved in the sale process of Siteserv had indicated to her that they all the bidders were 'not playing from the same starting line'.

She said in the information pack sent to prospective bidders who had signed confidentiality agreements, it should be assumed the company will be acquired on a debt free and cash free basis.

'Yet I have information and strong indications that when Siteserv was sold to Millington, it actually had 10 million on the balance sheet, a combination of cash and debtors. That has to be inquired into.'

Deputy Murphy also said the other bidders had indicated they were prepared to pay more. She said that Altrad, who  were a trader buyer who were excluded from the bidding process, had stated that 60m was their opening bid.

She also raised the share activity saying that at the start of November 2011, the share price was 3.5 cent but over the course of the month as the supposed confidential process intensifies, the purchases of Siteserv shares increase 53 fold.  

She said the review announced cannot be considered independent no matter how much you stretch the imagination.

'They led the sale, they represented the interests of many key players and Kieran Wallace himself led the liquidation of Siteserve plc'.  

Earlier, Fianna Fáil Deputy Sean Fleming accused Mr Noonan of "being asleep at the wheel" while the Siteserv deal was going on.

Deputy Fleming said the special liquidator's report would be tainted.

He said there was a bit of the Bart Simpson about the Minister, he knew nothing, nobody told him. 1817

Fianna Fáil Deputy Timmy Dooley questioned why the Siteserv loan was not put up for sale.

Party leader leader Micheál Martin put it to the minister that there was no logical reason to exclude trade buyers and that higher bids were excluded.  

He said that Blackstone was hired without competitive tender and said the company had made millions.  

Deputy Martin said ramming through the review showed the "arrogant and detached mentality" of the Government.'

He said it was a fundamental error of judgement and described it as a "stitch up" to get the outcome the Government wants.