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Posts tagged ‘Oireachtas’

Anglo execs still refusing to co-operate

By Emmet Oliver,
A group of former Anglo Irish Bank executives and other witnesses are still refusing to co-operate with the two-and-half year investigation into the bank, despite a fresh appeal by officers working for corporate watchdog head Paul Appleby.

The joint garda/Paul Appleby-led investigation team made a fresh appeal in May and June
— but people restated their refusal to co-operate through their lawyers, an affidavit reveals.

The investigation team wants to interview the group to shed light on a range of
events in 2008 when the bank was under severe market pressure, including the
warehousing of loans with other lenders and a deposit transaction between Anglo
and Irish Life & Permanent.

A senior garda attached to Mr Appleby’s office, Eamonn Keogh, has revealed that the fresh
appeal prompted a change of heart by some of the “reluctant
witnesses”. “A small number have since co-operated and made statements or have committed to making statements in the near future,” said his affidavit. “A definitive
response is outstanding from the remainder.”

Interviews

The investigation team had been trying to get interviews with some individuals for
more than a year, he added. Mr Appleby and his colleagues say they have no
powers to force people to give evidence. However, the High Court heard yesterday that new powers under the Criminal Justice Act could yet change this position. In certain circumstances, witnesses will have to co-operate under the terms of this bill which is making its way through the Oireachtas. The affidavit
was opened in court during an application by Mr Appleby for more time to
continue his probe. This request was granted by Mr Justice Peter Kelly, who
told the court special powers to seize material and activate warrants could
remain in place until early next year.

Mr Justice Kelly said the collapse of Anglo had “devastating consequences” and it was
not unreasonable for people to expect a thorough investigation into whether the
criminal law had been breached. The court also heard evidence from a legal representative of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), who said it was not right to say “nothing” was
happening in the investigation.

The DPP was being kept fully appraised and had received a number of “modular”
reports. Barrister for the DPP, Una Ni Raifeartaigh, said it had been decided that all the various strands of the investigation should be finished rather than deciding on charges
on some segments. She said there was an overlap in witnesses between the
different strands and also other linkages.The investigation team is still hoping to finish up by the end of the year, the affidavit makes clear. However, this is subject to various provisos, the team made clear in evidence to Justice Kelly. Some of the
warehousing of loans — known as refinancing by the investigation team — was a
lot more extensive and complex than previously thought, said the affidavit.

This was a wholly unexpected development, it said, but the team was now getting a better
understanding of the transactions.

– Emmet Oliver,
Deputy Business Editor

source http://www.independent.ie/business/irish/anglo-execs-still-refusing-to-cooperate-with-probe-2833214.html

 

Comment:

This is outrageous
the government should enact emergency legislation immediately we are dealing
with a known corrupt bank  I cannot
understand why top managers and directors are allowed to get away with not supplying
the gardaí with the information they need .These people should be brought
before the courts and jailed why do we not have the names of these people
splashed across the newspapers Name and shame  these crooks. Anybody else would be in jail by
now. Who is protecting these people? What dirt have they on the politicians, who
are afraid to act against these gangsters? Allen Shatter what are you afraid of?

New Irish house price index launched by Central Statistics Office

 
By namawinelake

Tomorrow sees the launch of a much needed house price index by the Central Statistics Office (CSO). It is particularly welcome since the other leading actual price indicator, the Permanent TSB/ESRI quarterly index has not been published since 18th January, 2011 and its delay in publishing the quarter one index is particularly curious – the index has come in for some criticism on here because PTSB now has a very small share of the Irish mortgage market and the index excludes cash transactions. The index launched by the CSO tomorrow will also exclude cash transactions but at least it will be based on the eight main mortgage lenders in the State. The CSO says that it will also provide an indication of the total value of all property transactions (cash plus mortgage), presumably sourced from the Revenue (the tax authorities that collect stamp duty on property transactions and who keep records also of exempt property transactions). There will be an update here tomorrow when the actual index is unveiled. The index was announced on 28th April, 2011 and there is some background information here.
Going forward, the index may become the most cited index because it will be monthly, will be issued shortly after the reporting period, will cover most mortgage transactions and by providing information on the full market (cash + mortgage transactions) we should get a better sense of how prices are changing. Given that we have had an almighty boom and bust, price discovery is needed now more than ever.
What the index will not provide will be prices – we WON’T find out what the average price of a house or apartment is; we’ll just see how prices have changed since 2005 so the index might start at 100.0 in 2005 and might be 70.0 today. The index will help us understand how prices have moved.
Whilst tomorrow’s new index is to be welcomed, it is no substitute for the House Price Register – the latest on which is that the Property Services (Regulation) Bill which will give legislative effect to the Register was restored by the Oireachtas on 25th March 2011 but appears not to have been debated or worked on since.

source:http://wp.me/pNlCf-1oz

Comment:

Perhaps it’s my suspicions nature regarding all things financial, coming from the government .But don’t they have a vested interest in talking up the prices of property? This fact does immediately call into question the reliability of these figures?

(NAMA) today published its Quarterly Report and Accounts

The National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) has today published its Quarterly Report and Accounts [The Report] for the Third Quarter2010 [1st July to 30th September 2010]. The documents were laid before each House of the Oireachtas by the Minister for Finance earlier today.

see full report here  NAMAPublishesThirdQuarterReportandAccounts

comment:

It would appear that NAMA are now dealing in Derivatives

The question is where does NAMA get the expertise to deal with Derivatives?

Comparison of Tax Proposals

 Val sent this in to us.

If a week is a long time in politics, the last few months have provided enough drama in economic and political life to last a lifetime – or maybe nine! Beginning with the arrival of the IMF in mid-November and the subsequent announcement of the National Recovery Plan, the economic spotlight has shifted to the Budget in December, the roller-coaster passage of the Finance Act through the Houses of the Oireachtas towards the end of January, and is now firmly focussed on a guessing game of the likely fiscal policy of the new Government.

This guessing game may not be that complicated. The €20bn of fiscal and spending adjustments contained National Recovery Plan formed a significant part of the discussions with the IMF and EU, and there are differing views on the room for manoeuvre any new Government may have in formulating their fiscal policy.

All of the political parties have published manifestos containing economic and fiscal proposals of greater or lesser detail, and we have summarised some key tax features

see PDF doc Here PwC 1

source: http://www.pwc.com/ie/2011irishelection/

Expense claims of TDs and Senators

By

TheStory.ie

TheStory.ie has obtained from the Oireachtas FOI documents released to journalist Ken Foxe, who sought details relating to the expense claims of TDs and Senators. The documents show how more than 100 TDs and Senators claimed expenses to which they were not entitled between 2007 and 2009. Some claimed for attending committee meetings which they hadn’t attended, while others submitted claims for attending the Dail when they were abroad. The documents appear to show two things: one that many politicians claimed for expenses they were not entitled to, and two that the Oireachtas has been writing to politicians consistently, checking that particular overnight claims were justified.

Beverly Flynn was blocked from claiming expenses for a committee meeting to which she had sent “her apologies”. Noel Grealish tried to claim for eight overnights – each worth €130 – whilst away on an official trip in Thailand, New Zealand, and Australia.

Fianna Fail’s Ned O’Keeffe received 11 separate letters from the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission regarding his expense claims for 33 “overnight” claims – with an estimated tax-free value of €4,290. Minister of State Peter Power also had a total of 16 overnights, which would have yielded around €2,080, blocked from his claims.

Fianna Fail TD Eamon Scanlon received no less than 10 letters from the Oireachtas to say his expenses were not in order. The letters detailed overclaims of 30 one-way journeys from Sligo to Dublin and 38 overnights worth more than €7,000 to which he was not entitled. Outgoing Fine Gael TD PJ Sheehan lodged an expense claim for a meeting he never attended.

Outgoing Fine Gael TD Bernard Allen was informed that he was not entitled to 22 overnight allowances for “using the facilities of the House” and could only claim for 12 of these. Outgoing Fianna Fail TD Chris Andrews was contacted twice, both for an overclaim of a single day, with his daily turning-up allowance of €60 disallowed.

Bobby Aylward of Fianna Fail was also written to three times, twice for overclaims of a single night worth €130 and once for an overnight claimed whilst in Brussels with the Joint Committee on Climate Change delegation. Fine Gael’s James Bannnon made the same mistake twice and claimed for overnights whilst he was abroad on Oireachtas junkets.

Niall Blaney from Fianna Fail was contacted on four occasions by the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission after more than €1,800 in expenses was disallowed. Fine Gael’s Pat Breen was also contacted twice, once for an over-claim for mileage and secondly for overnights while abroad.

John Browne of Fianna Fail received four letters from the Houses of the Oireachtas outlining six overnight allowances of €130 to which he was not entitled, including one whilst on official business in Strasbourg. Noel Coonan of Fine Gael made an overclaim worth more than €900 according to the records and had expenses for seven “overnights” ruled out.

His party colleague Michael Creed was contacted on six separate occasions, with the letters concerning a total of eight “overnight allowances” to which he was not entitled. Green TD Ciaran Cuffe, who was entitled to a daily allowance of around €60 simply to turn up at work made a claim in 2009 for 86 days of official business in the Dail when the maximum he could claim for was 60 days.

Wexford politician Michael D’Arcy was twice contacted about his expenses claiming for 75 overnights in a period where 65 overnights was the maximum allowed. Fine Gael’s Jimmy Deenihan and his party colleague Bernard Durkan also saw an expense claims disallowed. Fine Gael TD Damien English had four overnights worth €520 disqualified after he claimed whilst abroad. Fianna Fail TD Frank Fahey over-claimed for nine separate ‘overnights’ – worth around €1,200 – while overseas.

Sinn Fein TD Martin Ferris had 13 one-way journeys to Kerry and six overnights were being disallowed because he had already reached his quota. The Mayo TD Beverley Flynn made a claim for €260 for a committee meeting that she had not attended. Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher had four one-way journeys from Co Donegal disallowed as was a claim for attendance at the Dail on a day when no sitting took place.

Labour’s Michael D Higgins claimed expenses while abroad and three overnights claimed while in Oslo were also blocked. Maire Hoctor of Fianna Fail received three letters disallowing a total of 11 overnights and six one-way journeys from Tipperary, worth an estimated €2,000.

Fine Gael’s Phil Hogan had two overnight allowances disallowed.

Peter Kelly of Fianna Fail claimed for one night’s expenses on the basis that the meeting had taken place on September 15. However, it subsequently emerged that the meeting happened the following day and coincided with a Dail sitting day, for which the TD had already claimed. He also had six one-way journeys from Longford dismissed because they coincided with a five day visit to Strasbourg.

The Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny had a claim disallowed for thirty overnights to attend the Dail when the maximum he could claim was twenty six. Michael Lowry made the same mistake, putting in for twelve nights in Dublin when the maximum he could ask for was eight. Fine Gael’s Padraig McCormack was also blocked from claiming overnight expenses for meetings he did not attend.

Similarly, Dinny McGinley of Fine Gael was also blocked from claiming expenses for a committee meeting … one of which hadn’t even taken place. The former Minister John McGuinness was told he was entitled to just five of nineteen overnights put in for, and disallowed claims worth €1,820. Minister Martin Mansergh was told an overnight would not be paid for a meeting of the Finance and Public Service Committee, that had been cancelled in January 2008.

Cork TD Michael Moynihan received three letters ruling that seven overnighters in Dublin, worth €910. Fine Gael’s Dan Neville claimed for four overnights when he was on a visit to Prague. The outgoing Fianna Fail TD Noel O’Flynn got letters concerning excessive overnight claims totalling seven nights, or the equivalent of around €900. He also claimed for travelling to the Dail on four occasions when he was in Washington at the time.

The Minister Batt O’Keeffe also had his expenses trimmed after claiming for four overnights in a period between June 14 and June 19 in 2007. The Houses of the Oireachtas subsequently wrote to him and told he was entitled to just one. Emmett Stagg put in a claim for 83 daily turning-up allowances, when he was entitled to just 71.

Fine Gael’s Billy Timmins was disallowed from claiming two nights worth of expenses for a European Affairs meeting that he had not been at, according to records. The Green Party TD Mary White also put in for a meeting of the Enterprise, Trade and Employment committee in September 2008 when she had sent apologies and according to Oireachtas records she was not in attendance.

The documents do not include Ministers whose expenses are paid by their Department.

full documents available at source www.thestory.ie

Oireachtas spending – line by line

Oireachtas spending – line by line

By http://thestory.ie/

Posted: 03 Feb 2011 03:55 PM PST
Background:
Over 12 months ago I started a process of engagement with the Oireachtas in order to try and more fully understand how our parliament spends public money. The Oireachtas does publish some information on where it spends money, but I wanted to understand it in much greater detail.
The start of this process was an attempt to obtain all expenses claims by all TDs and Senators since 1998. This process was spread out over a number of months – and the processing of large amounts of data. Some information was released in PDF format (which requires conversion to spreadsheets) and the rest was provided in paper (most of which is still stacked in my living room waiting to be scanned and converted).
The second part of the process was an attempt to obtain the expenditure of the Oireachtas when it arose directly from the activities of Members. This would include things like trips abroad where the Oireachtas pays directly for flights for Members, rather than an expense being claimed. This would give a fuller picture to the public of exactly how much TDs and Senators cost – precisely, as broken down by Member.
The third part of the process was an attempt to understand the totality of Oireachtas expenditure. Every three years the Oireachtas spends about €393 million to run itself. I wanted to start with this figure, and work backwards. I wanted to know exactly how this figure was arrived at, and where every cent was spent.
This was not an easy task. And it is still underway. But I have had some success.
The first stage was to understand sufficiently how the record was held. As has previously been mentioned the Oireachtas uses a financial management system called Integra. Portions of the expenses data I had received already had been exported from Integra into tables. These tables were then printed. Then photocopied. Then scanned. Then sent to me as PDFs. But obviously there was a database sitting behind it, a database that existed since at least 2005.
Integra doesn’t just hold the expenses and salaries of politicians. It holds a record of the entire expenditure of the Oireachtas. Every time the Oireachtas has an incoming or an outgoing, it is recorded. What I sought was for all of this data to be exported to a spreadsheet, and released.
The Oireachtas refused. As well as arguing that the request was voluminous in nature, they decided that my request was: “in accordance with section 10(1)(e) and in light of the fact that the information has already been provided to you, the request is considered an abuse of the right of access and to be frivolous and vexatious.” They also argued that the information was “trade secrets of a person other than the requester and (ii) scientific or technical information as described in subsection (1)(a) and (b) of section 27 of the Freedom of Information Act 1997.”
The record contains 1.35 million line items (rows). They argued that since every line would have to be checked, this would impose an unreasonable burden on the Oireachtas.
However I appealed this decision to the Information Commissioner. It was agreed via the Information Commissioner that I would limit the scope of my request first by year (2009 first) and then by subhead (the Oireachtas breaks down its budget by what are called subheads, or categories of expenditure). I was given a list of subheads and from that list I chose three subheads. These subheads contain line by line expenditure, detailing in never before seen detail how a public body spends money.
This is significant in a number of respects. Firstly, it is the first time that a database (or at least portions of one) have been released that comprehensively details how public money is spent – and not just the expense claims of public bodies as I have published here before. Instead we see how much is spent on contractors, services, consultants – and not just in summary tables, but in actual records of a database – row by row, who got what, for what, and for how much.
There is a larger point here. Upon release of the data, I requested that the Oireachtas pro-actively released all other subheads and data. Either that, or I will spend the next two years sending a request every month for another three subheads, and so on, until I have all records. They refused, saying it would take too much resources.
I believe this information is sitting on servers in all government bodies. It is our information. It records in fine detail how every cent of public money is spent. Why is it sitting on servers, but not on the internet for all of us to see, and scrutinise? Why can the information not be published as it is recorded, in real time? Why keep a record of it at all, if it is not going to be open to public scrutiny? Why do we have 19th century style government auditors who look at the figures on our behalf, and then give us summaries of the data once a year? Why is all the data not just published day by day, week by week?
As the Oireachtas has refused to release any more data voluntarily, I will instead be forced to request data on your behalf, month by month. So you can see where your money goes.
The total amount of 2009 spending revealed by the data is €38,042,971.24.
Here is the 2009 data:
1(a) Salaries, wages and allowances in respect of members of staff of the Houses of the Oireachtas €26,075,956.30
1(c) Incidental expenses €5,686,779.24
6(a) Dáil Éireann (Other allowances and expense of Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas) € 6,280,235.70
To download the spreadsheets click File -> Download As -> Choose your format
What does the data contain?
The data contains significant detail on how our parliament spends money, including:
The titles of books purchased for the Dail Library and much they cost.
The individual expenditure for local advertising for TDs in local newspapers, line by line
Details on how much the Oireachtas spends on things from window cleaning to toilet paper
A breakdown of PR consultancy costs, including the names of PR companies employed and how much was charged
A breakdown of companies who have provided services within the subheads given
Expenditure on envelopes and postage
Expenditure on photography services
Expenditure on websites for TDs
There’s tonnes of details (and no doubt lots of interesting stories) in the data. Feel free to comment on what you find here.

PLANS to tax bankers’ bonuses at 90pc have been shelved

By Emmet Oliver Deputy Business Editor

Tuesday January 25 2011

PLANS to tax bankers’ bonuses at 90pc have been shelved, the Irish Independent has learned.

The measure to hit bank bonuses will not now be enshrined in the Finance Bill as it is rammed through the Oireachtas in the coming days.

Last week Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan promised that curbs on bank bonuses would be added to the “later stages” of the Finance Bill 2011, but with time to debate the bill now so short, this plan has been scrapped, leaving the whole area of banker’s bonuses up in the air.

More than 2,000 AIB staff are still due to be paid bonuses for work done in 2008, but the bank is holding off on payment pending final instructions from the government of the day.

Mr Lenihan was going to tax the bonuses at 90pc, wiping out most of their value, but this plan was legally complex and has now been scrapped.

Challenge

It means the controversial issue of bank bonuses, due to be paid at AIB, has been handed over to the next government.

AIB in the meantime will not be paying them, but it is facing fresh legal challenge from some members of AIB Capital Markets, where most of the bonuses arise.

The tax implications of civil partnerships, also expected to be included in the Finance Bill, have also been jettisoned for time reasons.

Meanwhile, there are considerable clouds over other elements of bank policy as the current government bows out. The NAMA (Amendment) Bill is also not going to make it through the Oireachtas in the current session, throwing a major spanner in the works for Irish banks.

This bill would have allowed NAMA to take over property loans valued at less than €20m and help the banks to shrink their balance sheets, making them more attractive to outside investors. Ireland has signed up to a range of milestones with the IMF and EU in relation to banks and one of the key ones is to order the recapitalisation of AIB, Bank of Ireland and EBS by the end of February. This now looks like an ambitious target.

Mr Lenihan is also awaiting answers from Bank of Ireland on its bonus structure and payments.

Recently its chief executive Richie Boucher admitted the bank provided incorrect information and since then it has had to correct the record.

– Emmet Oliver Deputy Business Editor

Irish Independent

 source :namawinelake  URL: http://wp.me/pNlCf-Yy

Emmet Oliver in today’s Irish Independent is claiming that the NAMA (Amendment) Bill which only three days in the Taoiseach’s resignation speech was highlighted as one of the two vital pieces of remaining legislation (alongside the Finance Bill) that needed be enacted before the dissolution of the current Dail, will not now be enacted in the current Dail. With a late February 2011 election expected and the merry dance that usually accompanies the post-election formation of a coalition (Ireland hasn’t had a one-party majority government since 1977-1981), it is likely to be late March or April 2011 that the Amendment will be enacted.
As regards the contents of the NAMA (Amendment) Bill, I am only aware of the Chief Whip’s announcements on 11th January 2011 which indicated that the Amendment was to enable NAMA to absorb sub-€20m exposures at AIB and Bank of Ireland. This looked odd to me as there is no mention of thresholds in the NAMA legislation (NAMA itself can absorb any eligible loans which are not defined by quantum, though it said in September 2009 that it would apply a minimum threshold of €5m to Anglo, AIB and BoI which was increased in September 2010 to €20m for AIB and BoI before being reduced to €0 for AIB and BoI after the IMF intervention in November 2010).
The suspicion on here was that the amendment was intended to significantly change NAMA’s remit, for example by forcing the agency to absorb other categories of lending (vanilla commercial property and mortgage lending perhaps which is excluded from NAMA’s remit which is primarily aimed at “land and development”). Interestingly the Independent today is now claiming that the delay with enacting the Amendment may jeopardise the banks’ recapitalisation plans.

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