Those of our readers with an interest in Irish political history, or indeed old enough to remember, may recall the small controversy over Telecom Eireann and a Johnston Mooney & O’Brien site involving such people as Dermot Desmond, Michael Smurfit and JP McManus. The controversy led to the resignation of Michael Smurfit from the board of Telecom.
Indeed, so hotly contested are the contents of this report, that Dermot Desmond went all the way to the Supreme Court in a bid to prevent the contents of the report being read into the record of the Moriarty Tribunal in 2004.
Here is a handy backgrounder from Ted Harding and Kathleen Barrington from 2002:
One of the great controversies of the 1990s, it turned on the purchase by Telecom Eireann of the former Johnston Mooney & O’Brien (JMOB) bakery site in Ballsbridge, Dublin.
In April 1989 financier Dermot Desmond reached an agreement with the JMOB liquidator to buy the site for £4 million. The property was sold to a firm called Chestvale in September 1989. In January 1990 Desmond told semi-state firm Telecom Eireann that the best price he could get for the site was £9.4 million. Telecom agreed to pay this amount.
When a controversy blew up over the sale, inspector John Glackin carried out an inquiry on behalf of the Department of Industry and Commerce. Desmond denied that he had a beneficial interest in any of the companies involved in buying and selling the site.
He rejected all suggestions that he owned a company called Freezone, which was registered in the Isle of Man tax haven. It provided much of the financing for the purchase of the property and received £1.3 million in profit. Glackin’s report, hotly contested by Desmond, found that the financier was among those who made over £5 million from the sale of the Ballsbridge property.
This report has been collecting dust on various shelves for the past 16 years, and thanks to the wonders of the interwebs we are able to bring you the full report: