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Adams highlights conflicts of interest at heart of Clerys sell-off

17 June, 2015 - by Gerry Adams

Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD today raised what he said were serious conflicts of interest surrounding the sale of Clerys which saw the loss of 400 jobs.

Speaking in the Dáil Mr Adams highlighted what he called sharp practice in the run up to the sale and the involvement of individual and companies in various aspects of the deal, which he said underlined the need for a change in the law.

The Louth TD called on the Taoiseach to support a Sinn Féin Bill which would amend legislation to outlaw such practices.

Gerry Adams said:

“As is now known, Boston-based vulture capitalists Gordon Brothers bought Clerys in 2012 for a figure believed to be around €2 million euro. This sale was made possible by Bank of Ireland writing off €10 million of Clerys debts and lending the same amount to Gordon Brothers.

“In July 2013, 80 staff were laid off at Clerys while Gordon Brothers received around €14 million in insurance for flood damage.

“Gordon Brothers separated Clerys retail business from its property assets by setting up OCS Operations and OCS Properties, before selling the latter for €29 million to Natrium Ltd. last week. Natrium had only been incorporated on May 27th as a vehicle for the purchase of Clerys assets.

“Natrium Ltd, which now owns Clerys, is a joint venture between Cheyne Capital Management and D2 Private. A senior executive at Cheyne is a former NAMA executive. D2 is run by a former KPMG employee. KPMG are also the Special liquidators at Clerys. KPMG also featured in the IBRC scandal and the sell-off its assets.

“Clerys retail business, now OCS Operations, was placed into liquidation before the property assets were sold off. There is no provision for redundancy, holiday pay or other staff-related costs or pensions. No fairness for employees or concession holders.

“All of this is entirely legal on Fine Gael and Labour’s watch. It is obviously sharp practice. It is clear that the legislation in this area needs to be amended. Sinn Féin’s Peadar Toibín has published a Bill to do this and I am calling on the Government to support this Bill.

The Clerys story is the latest example of a culture of golden circles, insiders and inequality which has so angered Irish citizens in recent years.

“Previous D2 investors have included Sean Fitzpatrick of Anglo-Irish Bank and a former Fine Gael Attorney General. Liquidators KPMG have also worked as auditors for D2 Private.  So Clerys liquidators also worked for the Purchaser. There appear to be clear conflict of interest issues here.

“Furthermore, the Companies Registration Office also lists Rafael Klotz as a Director of both OCS Operations and OCS Properties. Mr Klotz is also the Senior Managing Director of Gordon Brothers. The same Gordon Brothers who left Dublin after pocketing an extraordinary profit of €19 million after destroying so many jobs in this city.

“Insiders, golden circles, sharp practice. All legal under Company Law introduced by Fine Gael and Labour. The law allows workers to be shafted while the protected elites make massive profits.

“This Government must support and allow the passage of legislation to rectify this injustice before it leave’s office.”

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