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Archive for January 11th, 2012

Who knows, but it seems the Americans know enough about Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan to compose a personal profile (see above) of the veteran Fine Gael politician. This is revealed in briefing notes which RTE claims to have obtained – remember none of this is authenticated, and is apparently based on documents leaked to RTE. The eight pages of documents leaked to RTE and published this evening on RTE’s website relate to three separate interactions involving the US – the first is in December 2010 when the US was concerned about Ireland receiving an IMF bailout to which the US is contributing (document 1 and  document 2), the second appears to be a briefing in advance of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s meeting with Minister Noonan in Washington in June 2011 (document 3 and document 4 and document 5 and document 6) – remember that’s where Minister Noonan announced that he would be pursuing the burning of senior bondholders with the ECB – and the third interaction relates to a meeting between An Taoiseach Enda Kenny in March 2011 and Timothy Geithner (document 7 and document 8).

What do we learn from the documents?

Practically nothing except the mandarin who drafted the briefing notes for the June 2011 meeting between Minister Noonan and Secretary Geithner has an aggressive spell-checker on his or her wordprocessor which changed “Noonan” to “Noon”.

There is an asterisk against one sentence, inserted by who knows, the sentence being that the bailout “precludes any support for the domestic sector”

We learn that the “Priorities on the Participants’ Minds” was (only one priority is shown) Enda Kenny facing “sharp domestic criticism” when he didn’t ask President Obama about Geithner’s “reported opposition” to Ireland burning bondholders. Remember it was Morgan Kelly who made that claim in May 2011, and indeed there appear to be wikileaks which support that claim. The paragraph after the reference is redacted.

All in all, the leaking is a non-event, it’s EIGHT documents, one set of which appears incomplete. The documents have been nicely security cleansed so tracing their origin from the hidden PDF details is not feasible. Do they advance the debate about our debt sustainability or the wisdom of continuing down the austerity road? Probably not but I would love to know why someone asterisked the fact that there was no domestic stimulus. And of course it would be satisfying to know what the “personal profiles” said – perhaps the Michael Noonan profile pointed out that this finance minister from a bankrupt country in receipt of an IMF bailout was earning €169,000 per annum compared to Timothy’s measly €137,000. Finally it is intriguing that there are circa 26-characters of redacted text after Enda Kenny’s name and title.

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Extract from the UK Insolvency Service, click on image to enlarge

Following close on the heels of his brother, Ray, it is confirmed on the UK’s Insolvency Service website that Danny Grehan was declared bankrupt on 6th January, 2012. Danny’s fortunes are largely tied up with his brother’s; NAMA obtained a personal judgment against Danny last November 2011 which totalled just over €300m.

Although neither Grehan bankruptcy should come as a surprise to NAMA in a general sense, I get the feeling that NAMA was caught on the hop at the timing -following the news of the Ray Grehan bankruptcy on Friday last, RTE reported “”Clearly we will review the situation but our focus remains on recovering the maximum debt for the Irish taxpayer,” a spokesman for NAMA, now one of the world’s biggest property groups, told Reuters”

The Grehans had extensive property interests in the UK including apartment developments in London’s docklands, a shopping centre in Ealing, west London and a Crowne Plaza hotel in east London, and both brothers have reportedly been resident in the UK for some months.  Danny’s address is given by the Insolvency Service as “3 Tower House, 58b High Street, Uxbridge, Middlesex, UB8 1GF and lately residing at 6 Princes Park Parade,  Hayes, Middlesex, UB3 1LA, Crinstown, Maynooth, County Kildare”

I would have said it was unlikely NAMA would challenge the bankruptcies in the same way as Anglo successfully did with Sean Quinn. Danny is set to be discharged from bankruptcy on 6th January 2013.  In contrast bankruptcy in the Republic of Ireland lasts five years as long as preferential creditors are paid, or 12 years otherwise though the Government has committed to publishing new personal insolvency legislation by the end of March 2012.

There is a feature entry on the Grehans and their fall from grace with NAMA last year, here.

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