December 5, 2009

Absurd Puff Piece on Dublin Docklands "Governance Expert".

Pitched by DDDA Governance Expert's Fired-PD Husband. 

Coming Soon: Purpled Schools. Pinstriped Taxpayer Cash, Fools Ethics. Crooks Governance.

The Irish Independent has a piece of spin which could have been written by the farcical DDDA itself (Saturday December 05 2009). Or NAMA.  Or Anglo-Irish Bank.  Or any other capitalist tool still looking for a socialised multi-billion Euro taxpayer killing in Poolbeg's flood-plains. 

Newspapers in Ireland are in serious financial trouble.  During the Property Pyramid Scheme mid-week newspapers had 50 pages of guff posing as journalism.   A regenerated Pyramid Scheme in Poolbeg would generate extra advertising revenue from speculators and from NAMA-DDDA.

" with the financial support of the government  ... the project can be restored to financial health and our mandate completed".  - Absurd DDDA Hierarchy.

DDDA's mighty fine work with Anglo-Irish created a €250 million taxpayer liability - this totally removes any mandate DDDA once possessed.  The alleged governance expert seems to possess the unbelievable view that even more taxpayer money should be diverted from hospitals to restart DDDA's scheming in Poolbeg.  DDDA has already lost €250 Million.  Under the one remaining PD electee Hospitals are closing wards (Mullingar).

Absurdly for an investigative newspaper the article on the alleged governance expert totally omits and does not explain why the governance expert and DDDA's Hierarchy permitted DDDA's account to be withheld for 320 days until the very day of publication of Judge Murphy's Report into the cover-up by the Church Hierarchy of Child Rape.  It takes a totally unreformed hierarchy to manage the news by cynically taking cover behind the cover of another dodgy hierarchy.  Lots of fine words - but apparently nothing beyond the purely cosmetic has changed.  Ask Bob Geldof about The Purple & The Pinstripe of The Banana Republic.

The purple and the pinstripe
Mutely shake their heads

A silence shrieking volumes
A violence worse than they condemn

Stab you in the back yeah
Laughing in your face

Glad to see the place again
It's a pity nothing's changed

Curiously a sister paper (Herald:Friday, Dec 4) just regurgitated some very old news about Lar & Seanie and the well known story of an expensed trip to the City with the Banana Bar (DDDA's reformed board now trains staff with mangoes; bananas are out in the brave new world of ethical governance).  Lots of names are mentioned by the Herald.  Why?  To divert attention from something more important?  Have whistle-blowers been fired or scapegoated?

The Irish Independent's unnamed author does not mention these sample and continuing perceived or potential conflicts of interest at DDDA:
ARUP paid by DDDA for consulting at IGB

ARUP within DDDA's labyrinth governance structure.

McNamara's sisters company with partner within DDDA's labryinth governance structure.
McNamara a speculator with DDDA at the IGB site (€450 million taxpayer hit).
No doubt the organisations are fully above board.  However how can DDDA with its record take this risk with public perceptions? 

"Ireland's leading corporate governance expert"
Is this oxymoronic spin?  The article repeats the sound-bite that "Brennan, professor of accountancy at UCD, has long been recognised as Ireland's leading corporate governance expert".

This may or may not be true.  No evidence is presented for this opinion.  This apparent spin is continuously trotted out by Green-FF spin-meisters without supporting evidence.  Perhaps it is Ireland's Financial Regulator who holds this opinion.  However in the current context of national bankruptcy surely the fired financial regulator would acknowledge that 'Ireland's leading corporate governance expert' is a seriously unfunny oxymoron.

Without validation the statement is simply perceived to be a part of The Big Lie technique.  It only serves to reinforce the established perceptions, however fair or otherwise, that DDDA is rotten to the core.   DDDA still appears to treat the public with contempt, like their sister hierarchy.

"She plans to introduce a draconian ethics code for board members "
The article does not examine why sometime-in-the-future standards appear to be restricted only to board members. What about the Tamanny Hall challenge - the perception or possibility that DDDA-embedded councillors or their parties will trade votes for 'social housing' allocated by DDDA in sites where DDDA has total power to issue non-contestable planning permits. The social housing will rescue developers using taxpayer money.

"In fairness to Brennan, she isn't afraid to practice what she preaches".

There is again no evidence for this statement.  Is it true?   Forensic accounting and corporate governance demand evidence.

"Soon after being appointed to the DDDA she quit as a director of Ulster Bank."

How is that a virtue?  The article omits to mention why it took several months before the minimal action finally happened, and there is no examination about the possibilites that non-formal relationships will continue.

There is no mention that Ulster Bank financed a large property in Poolbeg (The Fabrizia site which ZOE Developments acquired for a song from AIB after AIB curiously acquired the 12 acres of public beach for an 'AIB sports field').

Associations with the PD-lead salty-dream for turning Poolbeg's flood-plains into the local Island of Ireland by Dubai World are not examined at all.  This is most curious.

Perhaps Shane Ross could take another look at the DDDA to follow up on his excellent work in early 2008 exposing the DDDA's now accepted to be dodgy governance.

The perception of a PD-related person leading governance standards at Poolbeg is absurd.  [This is a non-sense statement linking to non-sense youtube video, much like DDDA's withheld 2008 accounts].

Banama Republic of Poolbeg


The Puff Piece on DDDA Governance

Practising what she preaches

Accountancy professor is putting her stamp on a troubled semi-state

Saturday December 05 2009
The disastrous results from the Dublin Dockland Development Authority, which has written off €186m against bad property investments, has turned the spotlight on its chairman, UCD professor Niamh Brennan. With its balance sheet wiped out, the DDDA will need state support if it is to survive.
When she was appointed DDDA chairman last March it was widely believed that the semi-state body, which was established in 1997 to oversee the regeneration of Dublin's docklands, was in trouble. However, it was not until it belatedly published its 2008 results last week that the full extent of the docklands disaster became apparent.
The DDDA's results weren't bad. They were utterly catastrophic. On top of operating losses of €27m, it wrote down its property assets by a massive €186m to bring its total 2008 losses to €213m. As a result, its assets now exceed its liabilities by €48m.
If the DDDA were privately-owned it would have long since gone bust. It is only the prospect of state support which is keeping it in business, something Brennan herself implicitly acknowledged when she stated that: "Despite the steps we're taking, the situation is clearly very serious.
"However, with the financial support of the government and with a radically different approach to the job in hand, the board believes that the project can be restored to financial health and our mandate completed."
So how did things go so utterly wrong at the DDDA?
The DDDA is a unique hybrid. Not alone is it a state development agency like the IDA or Shannon Development, it is also, uniquely, its own planning authority. With 1,300 acres of prime real estate to redevelop, conferring planning powers on the DDDA might have seemed like a good idea in 1997.
Unfortunately, this combination of virtually unfettered planning powers and the greatest property bubble in Irish history, something which could not have been foreseen in 1997, was to sow the seeds of the disaster which has overwhelmed the authority.
What could and should have been foreseen were the potential risks of appointing not one but two directors of Anglo Irish Bank, Lar Bradshaw and Sean FitzPatrick, to the DDDA board. Bradshaw, who served as DDDA chairman until April 2007, was also a director of Anglo from 2004 to 2009, while FitzPatrick, who also stepped down from the DDDA board in 2007, was Anglo chief executive from 1986 to 2004 and chairman from 2005 to 2009.
Both were forced to quit the Anglo board in December 2008 when huge concealed loans from Anglo to FitzPatrick came to light.
However, it wasn't until January 2007 when the DDDA teamed up with Bernard McNamara, Derek Quinlan and Davy Private Clients to pay an astronomical €412m for the 24-acre former Irish Glass Bottle factory in Ringsend, that the full risks posed by the DDDA's incestuous relationship with Anglo became apparent.
The consortium, which was called Becbay, subsequently paid a further €30m to decontaminate the site.
Even at the time it was widely reckoned that the DDDA and its partners had massively over-paid for the Glass Bottle site. Even more worrying was the fact that Anglo, lent Becbay €288m to help fund the purchase. It has emerged that both Bradshaw and FitzPatrick, while declaring their interest in advance, participated in the October 2006 DDDA board meeting which approved its involvement in the deal.
Now the chickens have come home to roost. The 2008 DDDA annual report reveals that estate agents Lisney recently valued the Irish Glass Bottle site at just €50m, a mere 12pc of the original purchase price. As a result, the DDDA, which has a 26pc stake in the Becbay consortium, has written down its Glass Bottle site investment by a massive €117m.
Almost three years after the deal was completed important questions still remain unanswered. Appearing before the Oireachtas Environment Committee this week Brennan didn't pull her punches, remarking that it was "absolutely clear that there were systematic conflicts of interest".
She then went on to say: "I'm not fully clear myself as to what was going on behind the scenes".
Ever since details of the Irish Glass Bottle site debacle began to emerge in 2008 it has been clear that the DDDA was in urgent need of some serious house-cleaning. Unfortunately, things didn't exactly get off to a good start.
Bradshaw's successor as DDDA chairman, Donal O'Connor, followed him on to the Anglo board in June 2008. When FitzPatrick was forced to quit as Anglo chairman he was replaced by O'Connor, who resigned from the the DDDA board.
O'Connor's replacement as DDDA chairman, businessman Gerry McCaughey, lasted all of three weeks before being forced to resign when it was revealed that he had, perfectly legally, avoided paying capital gains tax on the €67m sale of his business, Century Homes, to Kingspan in 2005.
With the affairs of the authority threatening to degenerate into a farce, Environment Minister John Gormley couldn't afford to get it wrong again.
Instead, he crossed party lines and appointed Niamh Brennan, the wife of his long-time political rival Michael McDowell, to the DDDA chair.
Brennan, professor of accountancy at UCD, has long been recognised as Ireland's leading corporate governance expert. During the boom years not many people in either business or government took the subject terribly seriously. Brennan, whose personal style is best described as earnest, could expect a respectful hearing whenever she called for higher corporate governance standards -- which was quite often -- but not much more.
Now that the true cost of our lackadaisical attitude towards low standards in high places has become apparent, Brennan's calls for higher standards of corporate governance no longer seem so quixotic.
In fairness to Brennan, she isn't afraid to practice what she preaches.
Soon after being appointed to the DDDA she quit as a director of Ulster Bank. Having once been described as someone who never served on a committee that she couldn't dominate, Brennan quickly moved to put her stamp on the DDDA with chief executive Paul Maloney announcing his "early retirement" in July.
She plans to introduce a draconian ethics code for board members. They will in future be barred from accepting any hospitality from or socialising with people who might have a business relationship with the authority.
Whether this will have any real impact or merely amounts to closing the stable door after the proverbial horse has bolted remains to be seen.
With the DDDA's Becbay partners being beaten dockets, it is likely to find itself on the receiving end of several legal actions. With its implicit state guarantee the DDDA offers those who lost money on the Ringsend deal the best chance of recovering at least some of their investment. Already the Davy investors are suing McNamara and he, in turn, is suing the DDDA.
Stand by for plenty more legal activity in the months ahead.
Having lectured us for decades on the need for higher standards of corporate governance, Brennan now has the opportunity to put her theories into practice.
Irish Independent

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

" with the financial support of the government ... the project can be restored to financial health and our mandate completed". - Absurd DDDA Hierarchy.

Under the new public order Garda√≠ will be empowered to direct persons who are begging to desist. A failure to comply may result in an arrest and charge. On conviction, an offender could face a maximum penalty of €700 fine or a one month prison term.