The Central Bank and the Financial Regulator are to spend almost €8m of public money on a fit out for new offices in Spencer Dock in Dublin's docklands. A spokeswoman for the Financial Regulator confirmed that the lowest tender was not chosen for the job.
Building firm John Sisk & Sons beat off competition from 23 other contractors to secure the contract for the 5,500sq m fit out. This means the two agencies will be spending about €1,430 per square metre, the kind of budget normally reserved for major corporate headquarters, according to the new handbook from construction consultants Bruce Shaw.
The building was developed by Treasury Holdings, the Irish property development company controlled by Johnny Ronan and Richard Barrett. Based on standard rents in Dublin's north docks, the agencies are likely to be paying an annual rent of about €2.5m for the offices, which will be "overspill" accommodation in addition to their main buildings on Dame Street.
The head of the Central Bank, John Hurley, is one of the best paid central bankers in the world. He earned in excess of €345,000 in 2007, more than European Central Bank president Jean Claude Trichet, US?Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke and Bank of Japan governor Masaaki Shirakawa.
The Central Bank and the Financial Services Authority of Ireland (CBFSAI), which includes the Financial Regulator and the Central Bank, has also awarded a facilities management contract worth €2.6m for the new building to Vector FM, a property services company which is chaired by Irish businessman Niall McFadden.
The Central Bank will retain its existing headquarters on Dame Street and another office on the same street. Both the Central Bank and the Financial Regulator are set to undergo major reform following a series of embarrassing controversies over the past six months, mainly related to Anglo Irish Bank.
Finance minister Brian Lenihan announced last week that the practice of appointing a senior civil servant as governor of the Central Bank is to end. Instead, an international search will be carried out when current governor John Hurley retires.
The Financial Regulator spokeswoman also said they were still at the early stages of the process of appointing forensic IT consultants, property consultants, corporate finance experts and other expertise in relation to the government's bank guarantee scheme.
"It is anticipated that the process will take a number of months. The tender is not in response to the current issues and it would be wrong to suggest it is related to current events," the spokeswoman said.
She added that the aim was to appoint a panel of specialists "which all departments in the Financial Regulator could consult with, and use as required" over the next four years.