Call for probe into €2m rent payment to ex-bankersOctober 29, 2010 - 7:15am
By Darragh McDonagh
A Galway TD has called for an inquiry into the relationship between a number of government departments and a former director of Anglo Irish Bank from whom they are leasing offices in Galway for more than €2m a year.
Fine Gael Deputy Ulick Burke said that dealings between the Department of Agriculture, the Revenue Commissioners and a property company owned by two bankers “stinks to high heaven” and demanded that questions are answered.
Both government departments have relocated their Galway offices at considerable expense in recent years to become tenants of former Anglo director Tom Browne and senior manager at AIB John Hughes.
Mr Browne, the former head of Anglo’s Irish lending division, is scheduled to appear before the Commercial Court next Monday as the bank pursues him for loans of around €45m secured on shares and various property investments.
The Department of Agriculture vacated its offices at the Hynes Building and moved just a few hundred yards to the Dockgate Building on Merchants Road, which is owned by Mr Browne and Mr Hughes, at a cost of more than €3m in 2003.
The two bankers, trading as the Ballybrit Partnership, are paid an annual rent of €922,250 for the offices in the Dockgate Building, which is one of the most expensive leases held by a government department outside of Dublin.
A rent increase of 24% was sanctioned earlier this year and backdated to January 2008 when rental yields and property prices around the country were in decline.
It is understood that the department, which employs 52 staff in its Galway offices, is paying €53,646 a year for the use of 65 car parking spaces and around €74,000 in respect of service charges.
“The rent being paid at Dockgate is higher than that of premises on O’Connell Street in Dublin, while there are acres of space available on the Mellows campus. Someone has stopped the move to the benefit of these bankers and it stinks,” said Deputy Burke.
The Offices of the Revenue Commissioners in Galway relocated last April from Hibernian House in Eyre Square to the €18m Fairgreen Building, which is also co-owned by Mr Browne and Mr Hughes.
The Revenue Commissioners are paying an annual rent of more than €1.2m for office space in the new development, which is the highest rate paid for government offices anywhere outside of the capital
“Someone is hiding something and I will be asking for details next week,” added Deputy Burke.
For more on this story, see the Galway City Tribune