Tag Archives: Nama

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This afternoon.

Outside the offices of the Department of Finance on Upper Merrion Street, Dublin 2.

Supporters of Home Sweet Home, including Carrie Hennessy (speaking in photograph above), deliver a letter and petition calling on the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, to direct NAMA to use its property assets to address the homelessness crisis.

Earlier: Apollo, Nama And You

Showtime At The Apollo

Sam Boal/Rollingnews

Update:

 

Short film by Johnny Cullen on today’s march.

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Now.

Outside Apollo House on Poolbeg Street, off Tara Street, Dublin 2.

Supporters of the Home Sweet Home occupation of the building – including Transition Year students Emma and Aisling, from Tipperary, top – gather before marching to the Department of Finance offices.

There, a letter and petition will be given to the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, calling on him to direct NAMA to use its property assets to address the homelessness and housing crisis in Ireland.

More as we get it.

Earlier: Apollo, Nama And You

Pics: Home Sweet Home

UPDATE:

UPDATE:

On foot for receiving the aforementioned letter and petition…

The Department of Finance has released the following statement:

The Department of Finance today received a letter from the Home Sweet Home group, which is ten pages long and covers details relevant to the actions taken by that group. The Department of Finance will consider the content and a response will issue in due course.

The Government are aware of the powers of NAMA under the NAMA Act 2009.

NAMA has already been active in this space and have offered almost 7,000 units to local authorities for use as social housing. NAMA advise that of these local authorities have taken up c. 2,400 units for social housing use.

NAMA also has plans to facilitate the delivery of 20,000 private residential units on sites securing its loans in Dublin and its surrounds in the period to 2020.

NAMA is well on its way to deliver on that target and from Q1 2014 to December 2016 have facilitated the delivery of 4,500. The associated 10% social housing delivered on such sites should not be forgotten and is a further meaningful contribution to addressing shortages. This initiative highlights how NAMA can advance its commercial mandate whilst also being mindful of ancillary social objectives.

The availability of housing is the key priority for Government and has been the focus of a number of measures introduced under the Government’s Rebuilding Ireland Plan. The Department of Finance, the Minister for Finance, and NAMA continue to support that work.

Via The Department of Finance

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rory

From top: Banners inside Apollo House; Dr Rory Hearne

There is still time to use NAMA to do what it should have been used to do from the outset- to help heal the scars of the crash and austerity and the injustices of the bailouts.

Dr Rory Hearne writes:

Today at 12 noon the HomeSweetHome campaign will march from Apollo House to hand in a letter [at link below] and petition to the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, calling on him to direct NAMA to use its property assets to address the homelessness and housing crisis.

The government and NAMA have been trying to hide from the public the significant role that NAMA could be playing in addressing the housing crisis. But the Apollo action means there is no more hiding for NAMA and the government.

This article provides a detailed overview and analysis of why and how NAMA should be used to address the housing crisis. A number of these points are included in the HomeSweetHome letter to the Minister.

While myself and other academics and housing activists have been making the case about NAMA for a number of years it has taken the innovative and inspiring Apollo House action to bring widespread public attention to this.

And it has become even more urgent as the homelessness crisis continues to worsen. The latest monthly figures show that there are now 1,205 families, with 2,549 children, living in emergency accommodation in Ireland.

These figures how that the occupation of the vacant NAMA building, Apollo House, and its transformation into safe and secure accommodation for homeless people is the correct, and socially just, thing to do in order to get public and political attention focused on our housing and homelessness crisis which is a national humanitarian emergency.

The figures show that the the dismissive criticisms made recently by various politicians and Dublin City Council officials about Apollo House are wrong.

Those comments are part of an-going attempt to undermine the massive groundswell of public support for the HomeSweetHome action.

This truth is the core injustice of NAMA itself– it is a truth that government and NAMA officials have attempted to hide from the Irish people.

The NAMA injustice is that NAMA is a state (i.e. belongs to me and you) agency that has the buildings, land and finance that is being used to enrich wealthy property investors rather than being used to end a homelessness crisis that sees hundreds forced to sleep on our streets and thousands of homeless families and children traumatised living in emergency accommodation.

The central problem with NAMA is that senior NAMA officials (operating under direction from the Minister of Finance) have prioritised NAMA’s purpose outlined in Section 10 of the NAMA Act 2009 which is to “obtain the best achieveable financial return for the state”.

 

The problem with this is that while it might appear that NAMA is maximising the commercial return to the state and taxpayer, it is in fact playing a major role in worsening the housing crisis and thus adding to the economic and social costs of dealing with the housing crisis.

NAMA has sold off loans, land and property to foreign vulture funds who have evicted tenants and raised rents to unaffordable levels.

Most disgracefully NAMA has sold development land (sites) to investors that had the potential for up to 20,000 housing units. However, just 1,100 (5%) of these have been built or are under construction. The investors have hoarded the land, waiting for (and contributing to) housing prices to rise.

NAMA’s current approach is thus worsening the housing crisis and resulting in a significant cost to the state through the necessity for increased spending on homeless accommodation and private rental schemes such as RAS, HAP etc.

It also means that there is no guarantee that the sale of its land and assets will be used in the provision of affordable housing (or other uses). In all likelihood in the current market – financiers are purchasing them to hoard and accrue value before resale in future years rather than redevelopment.

As I wrote in an opinion piece published in the Irish Times on NAMA in 2014:

“By pushing for maximum commercial returns, Nama is working against the interests of those looking for an affordable and secure home. It is continuing the speculative-asset approach to housing that fuelled the crisis. This promotes residential property as a commodity rather than a social good.

Nama is facilitating a massive transfer of wealth created by the Irish people to foreign and domestic capitalist investors.

But Section 2 of the NAMA Act 2009 states that NAMA’s mandate is “to contribute to the social and economic development of the State”.

So why is this not NAMA’s priority?

Furthermore, under the provisions of section 14 of the NAMA Act the Minister for Finance has the power to issue a direction to NAMA.

The Minister Finance could, therefore, as part of converting NAMA into an affordable housing agency, direct NAMA to prioritise its Social Mandate (section 2) over its commercial maximising mandate (Section 10) in all of its operations. Also this Social Mandate should be made to include the prioritisation of the delivery of social and affordable housing.

The Minister should then direct NAMA to sell its property related assets in Ireland (loans relating to land and residential property and holdings of property and land) to local authorities, housing co-operatives, community land and housing trusts, and housing associations rather than vulture funds and REITs.

NAMA should also use the 6000 residential units currently in its possession to house homeless and people off the housing waiting lists as these units become vacant.

Most importantly, NAMA is planning to build (finance and develop) 20,000 houses by 2020 and 90 % of these are to be in the greater Dublin area).

However, the only legal obligation on NAMA is to provide 10% of these units for social housing.

Furthermore, while NAMA states that these units will be ‘starter homes’, at market rates they will be out of reach for many first-time buyers. In 2017 3,500 of these are expected to be built (2,500 are already under construction in the Dublin area). A third of these units- 1,100 of these units – should be used to house all families who are currently living in emergency accommodation, such as hotels and B and B, in Dublin.

Such accommodation is totally unsuited to their needs and particularly those of children who may suffer lasting damage from such accommodation.

It should be noted that NAMA has provided around 2000 social housing units to date. In fact, local authorities have been offered 6,635 units by NAMA e.g. over 800 houses were offered to Dublin City Council but only were 400 taken up, largely because of insufficient funding being made available to local authorities by government and issues relating to over concentration of social housing in certain areas.

The Minister for Environment, should immediately direct local authorities to take up all NAMA offers of social housing and that these will be funded and sanctioned by his Department.

Furthermore, NAMA could build tens of thousands of additional homes on its own and local authority land through the use of its cash reserves and delaying the repayment of its remaining debt. NAMA has already paid off 81 per cent of its debt of €31 billion (€25 billion), so that only €5 billion remains to be repaid.

Currently the Minister Finance and NAMA are planning to pay down the remainder by 2020 and Michael Noonan, has repeatedly defended NAMA’s ‘maximising of the commercial return’ from the sale of its land and buildings in order to pay back this debt as soon as possible.

But that timeframe is arbitrarily set by NAMA and the Minister for Finance. NAMA can fulfil its commercial mandate and pay down the debt – just over a longer time frame – through the development of affordable housing schemes using its cash reserves and ability to raise low interest finance to fund development.

This can be staged over a longer time frame than that currently fixed. For example, NAMA could fund through its cash reserves and lending to local authorities and housing associations the building of upwards of 50,000 affordable (affordable homes for broad range of income groups through social rental, cost rental and affordable purchase) housing units in coming years using NAMA and other state land.

The 50,000 figure is based on 20,000 units on NAMA land and using NAMA’s cash reserves and other assets at a cost of €500 million per 10,000 units of affordable housing and €1bn per 6000 public/social units.

This would save the State a substantial proportion of the €100 million annual expenditure in emergency accommodation and hundreds of millions more euro on various social housing schemes in the private rental sector.

So if NAMA, for example, provided 20,000 social and affordable units, it could save the State at least €1 billion over five years, and at least €2 billion over ten years (this would increase if 50,000 units were built), which equates to the return NAMA is supposed to provide to the taxpayer anyway.

Furthermore, this approach would provide a longer term rental income stream and housing assets to the State, and would address the humanitarian disaster of homelessness and the social and economic costs of the wider housing crisis. NAMA has already developed a model for doing this using its NARPS special purpose vehicle, and is building some social and affordable housing across the country, although at very low numbers.

But there is still time to use NAMA to do what it should have been used to do from the outset- to help heal the scars of the crash and austerity and the injustices of the bailouts.

It could do this by contributing to the social recovery through social and affordable housing provision for the Irish people rather than fuelling the economic recovery of the already wealthy global and Irish investors.

As I wrote in 2014:

“When our financial system was in peril there was no obstacle too large for the State to overcome. Now we face an equivalent crisis in housing needs. It is legitimate to ask why the same radical approach is not applied to the housing crisis. It appears the Government is unwilling to stand up to the financial and property investors”.

The Receivers appointed by the NAMA to Apollo House obtained an injunction from the High Court directing the occupiers to vacate the premises by noon January 11 2017. The effect of this is that at least 40 people, currently housed at Apollo House, will be rendered homeless and forced to live on the streets.

In the coming days a lot of public support is required to convert this brave citizen’s act into an unstoppable movement for a right to an affordable and secure home for all in Ireland.

You can start by signing the HomeSweetHome Open Letter to Michael Noonan, demanding he use NAMA’s resources to help end the homelessness crisis here:

Dr Rory Hearne is a policy analyst, academc, social justice campaigner. He writes here in a personal capacity. Follow Rory on Twitter: @roryhearne

 

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This morning.

From 10am.

Nama’s chairman Frank Daly and Nama’s CEO Brendan McDonagh will appear before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to answer questions regarding the taking of notes and preparation of minutes at Nama board meetings on December 12, 2013 and January 8, 2014 – in relation to the sale of Project Eagle.

PAC’s chairman Seán Fleming previously stated:

“I find it surprising that at key meetings where the sale of Northern Ireland assets worth 1.3bn was being discussed that notes from which the minutes were to be prepared have not been retained by Nama. Put simply, this means these records have been disposed of and were destroyed. Therefore, the committee has agree to recall Nama to discuss this matter.”

Watch the proceedings live here

H/T: Namawinelake

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Patrick Long, of Lazard and Co Ltd and Mary Lou McDonald, deputy leader of Sinn Féin

This morning.

At a meeting of the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee.

Patrick Long, of Lazard’s – Nama’s loan sales advisor on the sale of Project Eagle – is answering questions in relation to the Project Eagle sale.

From the meeting…

Watch proceedings live here

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A letter Pimco has sent to the Public Accounts Committee

This morning.

At the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

The committee briefly discussed a letter sent to PAC by Pimco – one of the bidders for Nama’s Northern Ireland property loan portfolio until it learned of a fixer fee arrangement.

The arrangement involved a sum of £16m to be split US lawyers Brown Rudnick, Belfast law firm Tughans and Frank Cushnahan, a former member of NAMA’s Northern Ireland Advisory Committee.

On July 9, 2015, Nama chairman Frank Daly told PAC that once it (Nama) became aware of the fixer fee arrangement and Frank Cushnahan’s alleged involvement in March 2014…

“…that’s why we threw Pimco out, or sorry, got Pimco to withdraw,”

However, Pimco contests this and, in the letter above, says not only did Pimco withdraw from the sale, of its own accord, Nama attempted to convince Pimco to continue with the sale despite knowledge of the fixer fee arrangement.

From the letter:

Pimco has been disappointed that Pimco’s withdrawal from Project Eagle has been repeatedly mischaracterised by Nama. We would suggest that Nama has conflated what may or may not have ben discussed at the Nama Board level (upon which we cannot comment), and the reality of the calls that Pimco made to Nama and Pimco’s own decision to withdraw.

The reality of Pimco’s decision to withdraw was reflected more accurately by Mr [Alan] Stewart in his evidence to the committee on 25 October 2016. Pimco welcomes his confirmation that Pimco withdrew from Project Eagle, and was not at any stage asked to leave the process by Nama.

Pimco is largely in agreement with the summarised call notes appended to the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General at Appendix E of the report entitled, ‘National Asset Management Agency’s sale of Project Eagle’, dated August 2016, although certain points are clarified below.

It should be noted that the reference  to “a success fee arrangement (being) in place between Pimco and Brown Rudnick” noted in the report is inaccurate. Whilst an arrangement was proposed by Brown Rudnick, it was never agreed to by Pimco.

As descibred in the notes, following a request by Pimco for a call on 7 March 2014, Pimco Legal spoke to Nama on 10 March 2014 and informed Nama about the proposed success fee arrangement. Pimco wanted to understand whether, and ensure that, Nama was aware of Mr Cushnahan’s role and the fee arrangement that had been proposed to Pimco. Pimco states that it would not proceed unless and until it was clear to Pimco that Nama was aware of Mr Cushnahan’s role in Project Eagle (including his potential interest as a beneficiary of a free arrangement as had been proposed to Pimco). Pimco described details of the fee that had been proposed and the reasons for its concerns.

The Nama attendees confirmed that they were not aware of the proposal but enquired as to wether Pimco would proceed in Project Eagle should Mr Cushnahan’s involvement, or the fee proposal to Pimco, be an issue for Nama. Pimco confirmed that it was not currently proceeding with the transaction and that any decision to proceed or not would be informed by Nama’s response. Nama agreed to consider the matter further and revert to Pimco.”

We can confirm that in no way did Pimco seek the acquiescence of Nama to any fee arrangement, nor seek Nama’s agreement that any fee arrangement was appropriate. That is also clear from Nama’s own minutes of the calls and the evidence of Mr Stewart to the PAC, who confirmed that did not happen.

As the notes outline, Nama contacted Pimco the following day (11 March 2014) to advise that the Nama Board considered the involvement of Mr Cushnahan to be a very serious issue for Nama. Pimco agreed to revert to Nama and on a futher call, later that afternoon, Pimco informed Nama of its disappointment that disclosures had not been made by the relevant parties to Nama. Pimco informed Nama that it did not want to be part of any process where there was any suggestion of impropriety and was willing to withdraw.

While it is for Nama to explain the reasons for the questions asked of Pimco on the call (and we note Mr Stewart sought to address this topic in his evidence to the committee) Pimco can confirm that on that call we were asked by Nama if we had considered “other options”, such as proceeding without the three parties, and we were asked to consider, before closing any doors, whether every option was being considered. Pimco agreed to give the matter final consideration and to revert again.

On 12 March, Pimco advised Nama that it had not option but to withdraw form Project Eagle. Nama expressed its disappointment but accepted the decision.

Pimco confirmed its decision to withdraw in writing on 13 March 2014.

In the last hour, chairman of PAC Sean Fleming said the letter would be sent to Nama “within 24 hours, asking for a paragraph-by-paragraph response, confirmation or disagreement, paragraph-by-paragraph.”

Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) Séamus McCarthy is now fielding questions from the committee.

Watch today’s PAC proceedings live here

Related: John McGuinness: Nama may have misled PAC (Sunday Business Post)

Pimco denies it was forced out of Project Eagle by Nama (Irish Examiner)

Pics: Jack Horgan-Jones and Hugh O’Connell

UPDATE:

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John Collison, deputy head of asset recovery at Nama at time of Project Eagle sale

Today.

Nama officials are appearing before the Public Accounts Committee to discuss the sale of Project Eagle in light of the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report into the sale.

Those appearing include John Collison, deputy head of asset recovery at Nama at the time of the sale; Michael Moriarty, now the current head of asset recover at Nama; Alan Stewart, senior divisional solicitor; and Donal Rooney, former chief financial officer at Nama.

Meanwhile…

*popcorn*

Today’s proceedings can be watched live here

Previously: 

Nama’s Project Eagle Anomaly

‘You Give Limited Information To Get The Answer That You Want’

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From top: Independent TD Catherine Connolly;  Nama board members Oliver Ellingham, Willie Soffe and Brian McEnery, at a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee today

This afternoon.

The Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee is continuing to question Nama officials in relation to the sale of Project Eagle.

The three members of Nama before the PAC today are non executive director at NAMA Oliver Ellingham, and Nama board members Willie Soffe and Brian McEnery.

Mr Soffe is also chair of Nama’s credit committee while Mr Ellingham is chair of Nama’s risk management committee.

Mr McEnery is chair of Nama’s audit committee and a former member of Nama’s Northern Ireland Advisory Committee (NIAC) – alongside Frank Cushnahan who was heard receiving £40,000, in bundles of two, from a Nama client during a secret recording broadcast on a BBC Northern Ireland Spotlight programme last month.

Readers may recall how, on Friday, a former member of Nama’s NIAC Brian Rowntree went before the Public Accounts Committee and spoke of the NIAC seeing a University of Ulster study which contained both commercially sensitive and confidential information in relation to Nama.

Mr Rowntree said:

“This refers to a piece of work, an evidence based piece of work undertaken by a university who were doing land assembly analysis and before they’d even undertake or engage with NAMA they had whole stage of caveats around the confidentiality of the information and this was explained to the committee, now if that’s not commercially sensitive, I don’t know what is. This data not only had the location and types of property, this data also had details of planning permissions, current, and about to expire and potential for renewal. it also had details of housing and residential need overlaying on top of it,  it also had details in consolidated form of holdings by other banks. So one would have a got a picture of the complete land bank of Northern Ireland, and one one have looked at the opportunity locations within that portfolio.

“…The information was provided to the university by NAMA, so it was shown as NAMA properties and there was a separate section of the report which was privileged to NAMA which showed the NAMA impact analysis across all those platforms..”

Further to this, earlier today Independent Catherine Connolly asked Mr Soffe if he disagreed with Mr Rowntree’s claims.

In addition, Ms Connolly questioned Nama’s decision not to tell Lazard – which was hired to oversee the sale of Project Eagle – about the ‘fixer fee’ arrangement whereby 15million pounds was to be divided between law firm Brown Rudnick, Belfast solicitors Tughans and Frank Cushnahan if Pimco successfully bought the Northern Ireland loan book.

After Pimco’s withdrawal from the sale – following the fixer fee arrangement becoming known – Cerberus bought the loan book as Brown Rudnick and Tughans continued to be involved in the sale.

Catherine Connolly: “In relation to the [University of] Ulster research. And Mr Rowntree was very clear about that: that it was a high-level piece of research and you’ve confirmed that to day and there were many presentations and he said that was potentially confidential information that somebody could make use of. To summarise him, that’s what he said. You probably listened carefully to his evidence so you know better than I did. So, are you disagreeing with him on that?”

Soffe: “Well, to explain, I mean the information in relation to planning zoning is available in planning offices all over…”

Connolly: “I understand that, I’ve been 17 years in local authority, I head you say that: I’m asking you a question…”

Talk over each other

Connolly: “No my question is: are you disagreeing with Mr Rowntree? That’s simply my question.”

Soffe: “I am…I, I…”

Connolly: “Good…that’s okay..”

Soffe: “I don’t see …  there was nothing… anything particularly confidential about it that was of benefit. The same information could be found by anyone who wanted to inquire about developmental… was possible…”

Connolly: “That’s okay…”

Soffe: “On particular occasions…”

Connolly: “That’s okay. In relation to Lazard and Lazard was appointed in January 2014 and Lazard were given a verbal briefing to the sales process, isn’t that right? There was no written document? It was a verbal briefing? And..is that correct?”

Soffe: “Yeah, well we were..they were to come back with..”

Talk over each other

Connolly: “You didn’t give them a written document. You gave them a verbal briefing. Okay. And then the Comptroller and Auditor General has raised concerns in relation to what you relied on – the assurance from Lazard and today, you’ve relied on that again and Mr Soffe, in particular, you’ve come back and you’ve said that Lazard reassured you that the process was….”

Soffe: “Competitive tension to the very end.”

Connolly: “Okay. Now, you never told Lazard that Pimco had withdrawn in the circumstances that they had withdrawn.”

Soffe: “It was not relevant for them. They were gone out of the process and like, you know, there was no reason to discuss the, to discuss it with them. Pimco wanted to go away quietly and they were allowed to do that.

Connolly: “Well, they certainly didn’t go away quietly because we’re talking about it now in 2016.”

Later

Soffe: [Lazard] gave us an absolute assurance that there was potential, tension to the end, competitive tension right to the very end and that we were achieving more than our minimum price.”

Connolly: “You’re not listening to my question, sorry now. The Comptroller and Auditor General has raised an issue in relation to the nature of the assurance given by Lazard. And he says that Lazard had only limited information. So he raises a concern about that assurance. Do you accept that concern?”

Oliver Ellingham: “I think if we were to phrase that, we were happy that the assurance we had from Lazard, for a commercial transaction, was adequate.”

Connolly: “Well…I…”

Ellingham: “As a board, we were faced with, we’re selling some assets and I’m sure any party would be able to find reasons why an advisor needed to be given lots more information to give us an opinion. What we were asking for, was an opinion from Lazard as to whether we were selling in a competitive process and getting fair price.”

Connolly: “How could you possibly rely on an assurance where you’ve given limited information.  Where you know that Pimco have withdrawn? Sorry now, and then you come back and you even  today tell us that you’re reassured by that assurance?”

Ellingham:What we were trying to do was to sell some assets for a particular sum of money….

Connolly: “Yes.”

Ellingham: “...in order to pay down debt. And therefore, we had an assurance that provided we got over 1.3million [sic] then that was the right price in the marketplace and the buyer was capable of buying it. We were not, for us, it was a commercial transaction and for Lazard to opine on the mass of the situation, that’s not, we didn’t think it was relevant for them to be told why Pimco had withdrawn.”

Connolly: “Well, certainly, to me, I’m no expert and I’d say to the ordinary person watching or listening, I don’t think…I’m not reassured. You give limited information to get the answer that you want. You gave limited information to get precisely the answer you want, which is reassurance that the competition is competitive when there’s only one remaining bidder.

Soffe:Well, there were two to the end and as we have said, that is not uncommon. Even if you look at, processes, like Project Eagle, there were two at the very end and that’s quite normal…”

Connolly: “It could well be but this is not a normal process, this is not a normal situation. You’re now aware that there were success fees. You’re fully aware of all that and you still don’t pass on that information to Lazard.”

Soffe:That was dealt with and out of the way and it had nothing to do with the remaining process.”

Watch live here

Last Friday: Nama’s Project Eagle Anomaly

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Catherine Murphy, Social Democrats TD for North Kildare (top) and former Northern Ireland Advisory Committee member Mr Brian Rowntree (above)

Yesterday, at the Public Accounts Committee hearing on Project Eagle,, Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy questioned Brian Rowntree, who was a member of Nama’s Northern Ireland Advisory Committee alongside Frank Cushnahan.

Last month BBC Northern Ireland’s Spotlight programme broadcast a secret audio recording of Mr Cushnahan receiving £40,000 – in bundles of two – from a Nama client.

A report by the The Comptroller and Auditor General found the Northern Ireland loan book may have been undersold to the tune of hundreds of millions of Euro.

Nama chairman Frank Daly wrote in the Irish Times:

“Neither Frank Cushnahan nor any other external member of Nama’s Northern Ireland Advisory Committee had access to confidential Nama information that could have been passed to any bidder.”

From the PAC hearing:

Catherine Murphy: “Can I just go back to the point that was made, I just want to expand on it a little bit, and I am referencing the Northern Ireland Finance Committee, page 17, the review on the sale of NAMA properties in Northern Ireland and the paragraph that was referenced in the BBC Spotlight show, I’ll go on –

Mr Brian Rowntree, stated that the NIAC members had access to information which was of a ‘commercially sensitive nature’ and which offered ‘commercial opportunity’ and would have been of some value to a bidder for Project Eagle. This is of particular significance as it appears to contradict the position adopted by NAMA to date”.

What was the nature of the information? Because a lot of what you said in your opening statement tends to say there was a lot of general information, so what was the nature of the information that would given someone a commercial opportunity?”

Brian Rowntree: “I wouldn’t have made that statement on Spotlight programme if I hadn’t been affirmed that I was in a room where I had discussions around commercially sensitive information. I wouldn’t have gone public by stating that on a BBC spotlight programme. This refers to a piece of work, an evidence based piece of work undertaken by a university who were doing land assembly analysis and before they’d even undertake or engage with NAMA they had whole stage of caveats around the confidentiality of the information and this was explained to the committee, now if that’s not commercially sensitive, i don’t know what is. This data not only had the location and types of property, this data also had details of planning permissions, current, and about to expire and potential for renewal. it also had details of housing and residential need overlaying on top of it,  it also had details in consolidated form of holdings by other banks. So one would have a got a picture of the complete land bank of Northern Ireland, and one one have looked at the opportunity locations within that portfolio.

Catherine Murphy: “And would have some of those have been properties with loans in NAMA?”

Brian Rowntree: “Yes, I think from memory, NAMA would have accounted for 30%.”

Catherine Murphy: “And would that have been identified that they were properties with with a Nama loan?”

Brian Rowntree: “The information was provided to the university by NAMA, so it was shown as NAMA properties and there was a separate section of the report which was privileged to NAMA which showed the NAMA impact analysis across all those platforms

Catherine Murphy: “I want to refer to page 132 of the C&AG report, just at the end of it it says:

With regard to the proposed acquisition of the NI Debtors Portfolio, PIMCO confirmed the following: They have not completed any due diligence or engaged directly with any NAMA debtors in this regard PIMCO’s analysis was conducted by way of reverse engineering NAMA’s Balance Sheet and cross-referencing the publicly available information on NAMA’s portfolio”  

I am just curious, because its jumping out at me, could they  have put together that portfolio? is that credible? Is that believable that they could put together a portfolio by reverse engineering on the NAMA balance sheet and cross referencing other information or does it indicate there was other information?”

Brian Rowntree: “I can’t comment, I wasn’t part of the discussions at the main NAMA board. What it does say to me is that they had some process outlined as reverse engineering, they would have had some underpinning intelligence, be it some intelligence of their own or evidence based to look at a reverse engineering component.”

Catherine Murphy: “The approach appears to have come almost packaged to NAMA via the two Ministers for Finance (Michael Noonan and Sammy Wilson), it looks to me, if I am reading this right, that there was significant amount of information in advance of engagement with NAMA, in putting together this portfolio.”

Brian Rowntree: “Well purely from a commercial context, from my own past commercial experience I would certainly not have bid for something blind. I have never known anyone to bid for any business oppertunity blind. I don’t know what their evidence base was but that’s where we go back to the controls and corporate governance provisions, those would outline and underpin the evidence provisons that supported the bid process.”

Watch back in full here.