Tag Archives: Nama

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Yesterday, Independent TD Mick Wallace told the Dáil that he knew of a NAMA portfolio manager who sought a bribe of two installments of €15,000 cash “in a bag” from one of its debtors – to allow the debtor exit NAMA.

This morning, Mr Wallace spoke with Gavin Jennings, on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

During the interview, Mr Jennings read a letter that Brendan McDonagh, the CEO of NAMA, had written to the Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan, in light of Mr Wallace’s claims.

The letter said:

“It’s my understanding that, under Section 19 of the Criminal Justice Act 2011, any party with evidence of criminal wrongdoing is legally obliged to bring such evidence to the attention of An Garda Siochana. In the event that the deputy [Wallace] is aware of such evidence and has not brought it to the attention of An Garda Siochana, it’s my understanding that this is a breach of Section 19.”

Mr Wallace told Mr Jennings that he found it “interesting that NAMA would like to shoot the messenger”. He also said he would be willing to speak to the gardaí – and name names.

Meanwhile…

Here is what Mr Wallace said in the Dáil yesterday…

Mick Wallace: “Yesterday, the Taoiseach said the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Committee of Public Accounts are the agencies in this jurisdiction for dealing with issues concerning the National Asset Management Agency, NAMA. We both know neither of them have the potential to fully hold NAMA to account. The legislation regarding the Comptroller and Auditor General does not allow for ongoing, intrusive oversight and monitoring and lacks asset management oversight functions. There are many concerns around the workings of NAMA.”

“Cerberus expects to make a large fortune from the purchase of Project Eagle. The £7 million that ended up in an Isle of Man bank account will begin to look like small change. The big loser, though, is the Irish taxpayer in the South. NAMA says the sale of Project Eagle was lawful, but was the purchase lawful? I would have thought that a Fine Gael Government would have a bit more concern about slush moneys for fixers. I doubt the Taoiseach has heard the last of Project Eagle.”

Does the Taoiseach know how many barristers, judges, solicitors, top-four accountancy firm partners and bankers are in syndicates which have been set up by Goodbody Stockbrokers, Anglo Private, Bank of Ireland Private, AIB Private, Davy, Warren and Quinlan which have transferred to NAMA but which NAMA has not enforced, despite personal guarantees being attached? NAMA is responsible for some people being tossed out of their homes, but it looks like some of the great and good of Irish society are blessed with NAMA’s goodwill.”

What role did a former Secretary General of the Department of Finance, John Moran, play in NAMA’s handling of the Coroin group’s portfolio? This gentleman remarked at one stage that the number of home repossessions in Ireland was unnaturally low. It would appear he was unnaturally interested in playing a significant role in the outcome of the Coroin group’s portfolio.”

All is not well. I know of a construction company, Taoiseach, which wanted to exit out of NAMA, so it asked the manager of its portfolio if it could happen and he said, “Yes, but it will cost you €15,000 in cash and I want it in a bag”.”

An Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett: “Sorry, Deputy. If you have these sorts of charges, can I suggest you give them to An Garda Síochána because they cannot be substantiated here?”

Eric J. Byrne: “The Deputy should go before the Committee of Public Accounts with this information. He is grandstanding here.”

Wallace:A few weeks later, they delivered the money. A few weeks later he demanded the same again. They duly obliged and all was sorted – a small window into the workings of NAMA. Is the Taoiseach still happy with the workings of this secret society?”

Enda Kenny: “The Deputy has made a number of comments and allegations here regarding people working in different sectors, including members of the Judiciary. He made comments in respect of a former Secretary General of the Department of Finance, as well as comments generally in respect of NAMA.”

“Let me repeat again for him. The process of accountability and transparency in this jurisdiction in respect of NAMA is the Committee of Public Accounts in the Oireachtas, chaired by a Member of this House. Personnel from the Comptroller and Auditor General’s office work with NAMA and have access to all the papers and documents relevant to any of these transactions.”

“I would suggest that, as a public representative, the Deputy has a facility where questions can follow his allegations. He should go to Deputy [John] McGuinness’s committee, the Committee of Public Accounts, a committee of long-standing integrity in this House. The Deputy can make his claims, ask his questions. The Chairman of the committee, with his members, is entitled to call in personnel in respect of the issues the Deputy raised.”

“The Deputy has made some serious claims here. I do not have the detailed responses to them. The Committee of Public Accounts is the authorised independent entity in the Oireachtas for accountability and transparency in respect of NAMA. I suggest to Deputy Wallace that in the interest of public accountability and transparency, he goes to the committee, presents his findings and facts – if facts they are – and allow the Chairman and his committee to do their work in the interests of their political responsibility here.”

Wallace: “I can only come to the conclusion that the Taoiseach does not seem awfully interested in getting to the truth. There is a stark contrast between how Northern Ireland is dealing with this and how the Government is dealing with it.”

Creed: “The committee is in the North.”

Wallace: “Can the Taoiseach tell me why did Mr. Frank Daly tell the Committee of Public Accounts that he did not know about the alleged £7 million in the Isle of Man bank account until I mentioned it? I know for a fact that NAMA—–”

Barrett: “I am sorry, but this is Leaders’ Questions.”

Wallace: “—–knew this last January. What did it do about it? Did it tell the Minister for Finance or did it bury it with the rest of it? Mr. Coulter has denied the involvement of a politician. Well, he would, would he not? I decided to contact my sources this morning and ask them to what degree of certainty they could stand over the involvement of a particular politician. Their reply was, “Is 100% enough?”. The Taoiseach has serious problems. Does he want answers to them? Do not bother asking me, Taoiseach, to go to the Garda—–”

Barrett: “Sorry, but this is no way to be dealing with such a serious issue. The Deputy cannot use the Chamber as a Star Chamber where no evidence is presented. The Deputy is affecting people’s reputations here. He has not presented any solid facts.”

Transcript via Oireachtas.ie

Listen to Mr Wallace’s interview on Morning Ireland here

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A section from FOI documents pertaining to Nama, obtained by journalist Gavin Sheridan, from the Department of Finance.

Mr Sheridan obtained the NAMA Advisory Group minutes from March 2012, and a NAMA internal document on its strategic plan.

In relation to the section highlighted above, Mr Sheridan asks on his website The Story:

Is this a plan to constrain housing supply to increase land/asset values in favour of NAMA?

Anyone?

See the documents obtained and Mr Sheridan’s blog post in full here

Previously: Nama And The Rise In Property Prices

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Lawyer Ian Coulter

You’ll recall how Ian Coulter was the former managing partner at Tughans Solicitors in Belfast – which was involved in the sale of Project Eagle, Nama’s Northern Irish loan book – until he resigned in January of this year.

Late last night he released a statement for the first time since Mick Wallace told the Dáil, on July 2, that a routine audit of Tughans, “showed up where 7million in Sterling ended up in an Isle of Man…It was reportedly earmarked for a Northern Ireland politician or party.”

Last night, Mr Coulter said:

The concept of a Northern Ireland Nama deal was developed and significant work leading up to this deal was done by other business people in Northern Ireland, before any involvement of Cerberus (or any bidder). None of these other parties were from Tughans and none were politicans or relatives of politicians.

Through Tughans I was formally engaged to provide the required local counsel to Brown Rudnick. This was a commercial arrangement with Brown Rudnick, for which fees were discussed and agreed. No politician, nor any relative of any politician in Northern Ireland, was ever to receive any monies in any way as part of this deal. This was never discussed, assumed nor expected.

The deal itself was a straightforward one between a buyer (Cerberus) and a seller. Nama received what it has publicly confirmed is the full and disclosed value. No monies from Nama went towards any fees paid to Tughans. The money which has been called into question was part of the total legal and consultancy fees agreed as payable by Cerberus to Brown Rudnick. Cerberus did not engage or pay Tughans directly. Cerberus has acted completely professionally and properly at all times in relation to this matter.

The fees payable were paid into a Tughans company account supervised by the firm’s Finance team. In September 2014, a portion of the fees was retained by Tughans and I instructed Tughans’ finance director to transfer the remaining portion into an external account which was controlled only by me. Not a penny of this money was touched.

The reason for the transfer is a complex, commercially – and legally – sensitive issue and has been explained to my former partners at Tughans. It will be explained to the appropriate authorities and those entitled to that information as part of my continuing co-operation with any investigation.

The money which was transferred to an external account was not “discovered” or “retrieved” by the Law Society or Tughans during an audit, as some reports have incorrectly stated.

In fact, I transferred the money back to Tughans in early December 2014 and I brought this to their attention. From late November until early January, discussions took place to try to resolve the matter. In January 2015 these discussions broke down and I decided to resign from Tughans.

Terms and conditions for my resignation were agreed between me and Tughans. I have not received any personal financial benefit for my work on this transaction. Neither I nor any third party has received any part of the 7.5 million fees.

Meanwhile…also last night:

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Lawyer denies NAMA money went to politician (RTE)

Nama deal: Ian Coulter says no politician or their relatives were due to receive money from sale (BBC)

Previously: Project Eagle And The €3.5billion Haircut

‘What Did They Get The €5million For?’

Pic: BBC

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Indeed.

During Leader’s Questions on Tuesday, led by Richard Bruton, top, Mr Bruton insisted several times – in an exchange with Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin – that there is a member of the Comptroller and Auditor General office ’embedded’ in NAMA.

Micheál Martin: “I am sure the Minister, Deputy Bruton, will agree at this stage there has been enormous concern about the sale of NAMA’s Northern Ireland loan book to Cerberus Capital Management. This was raised in the Dáil last week by Deputy Mick Wallace, who raised serious concerns and made serious allegations. We know BBC Northern Ireland has carried out an extensive investigation in a programme yet to be aired, but some of its people have already spoken about it. Many statements have been publicly made by key stakeholders involved, and various leading politicians have denied any involvement whatsoever. I am minded of the remarks made by the Minister, Deputy Michael Noonan, to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform in April 2014. He asked the agency to conduct a review with a view to accelerating the sale of its loan book and bundling properties together. He stated: “I have asked [NAMA] if they have any suggestions on how we could work that and would it be possible to use it as a brake on the market.” By this, he was asking what would be the consequences at the end of 2015 of taking the residual NAMA book and doing what IBRC did to its residual book in selling it off in a six-month period. One might now argue that one of the consequences was the kind of deal done with Project Eagle, where the entire Northern Ireland property portfolio of NAMA was put into one bundle and sold at a loss of around €200 million to NAMA and a discount of approximately 72%. We now know that, essentially, £7 million ended up in an Isle of Man bank account. That is not contested. We know the money was in an account controlled by a former managing partner of Belfast law firm Tughans, which acted indirectly for Cerberus, the US investment firm that bought the loan book. We know Pimco, another large US firm, withdrew from a tender process for the same loan book, citing concerns about an unsolicited approach from a number of individuals.”

Ceann Comhairle: “A question, please.”

Martin: “It notified NAMA about the unsolicited attention and, as part of its due diligence process, pulled out because of concerns that it had. NAMA has confirmed that Pimco’s compliance staff discovered that its proposed fee arrangement with US law firm Brown Rudnick also included the payment of fees to Tughans and a former external member of NAMA’s Northern Ireland advisory committee. This is in the public domain and I am not naming any names. Tughans has now stated that a former partner diverted the professional fees into an account without the knowledge of other partners. Suffice it to say that this is very serious and profound stuff that goes to the very heart of whether a proper deal was done on behalf of the taxpayer. I acknowledge that we have had many different commissions of investigation established but, given the gravity of what has been alleged and what we already know publicly or NAMA has confirmed, a commission of investigation is urgently required to investigate this entire episode involving the sale of the Northern Ireland loan book to the company concerned. Has the Government made a decision to set up such a commission of investigation?”

Richard Bruton: “I thank the Deputy for his question. First, it is important to say that NAMA has a very clear public mandate to deliver best value and in that role it is very actively overseen by the Oireachtas. There is an embedded member of the Comptroller and Auditor General’s office working with NAMA, it conducts regular audits and representatives come to the Committee of Public Accounts on a quarterly basis with information. I understand NAMA representatives will be before the Committee of Public Accounts this Thursday, and there will be an opportunity for members of that important committee of the House to question those representatives on the way NAMA manages its affairs.”

“The issues raised and which are a cause of public concern regarding the destination of a fee are an entirely different matter. It is important to understand the way in which NAMA dealt with this. When it heard there was interest in the loan book, NAMA insisted there would be a competitive process and one of the companies involved, as the Deputy knows, was Pimco. It indicated that its compliance staff had uncovered a proposed fee arrangement and when this came to the attention of NAMA, it decided that if Pimco did not withdraw from the sale, NAMA could not permit it to remain in the sales process. On foot of that, Pimco withdrew from the sale. NAMA also sought assurances, I understand, in respect of the successful bidder in this project that there was no such arrangement in place. It received such assurances.”

“NAMA has discharged its business in a very thorough way. The issues raised by the Deputy in respect of the decisions made by the NAMA board on whether to sell loans individually or in a bundle are a legitimate matter for questioning at the Committee of Public Accounts. The representative of the Comptroller and Auditor General would have been across that decision at all stages and would have been involved with the auditing of the decision as it was made. This information on how the business was conducted is available to the Comptroller and Auditor General and it would be available to the Committee of Public Accounts. NAMA’s representatives will be before the committee on Thursday.”

Martin: “That is not a satisfactory answer in any shape or form. This is not about a routine appearance before the Committee of Public Accounts and it is not the subject of a routine audit. The timeline is very important. The fee arrangement mentioned by the Minister necessitated the withdrawal of Pimco was brought to the attention of NAMA by Pimco, by the way. No auditor or anybody else discovered that. Representatives of Pimco went to NAMA and indicated that its compliance personnel were very concerned about the unsolicited approaches, the nature of those approaches and the fee arrangements. Within a month, NAMA sold the package to another major investment company, Cerberus, apparently with a similar fee arrangement process in place and with the diversion of up to £7 million into an Isle of Man bank account.”

“It is glaringly obvious that this demands a very serious, independent and objective inquiry, with compellability, into the specifics of this issue. Very serious allegations have been made about what transpired and there are many unanswered questions. This is entirely unsatisfactory. This concerns the largest property sale ever on the island of Ireland, with 850 properties being bundled together and many intermediaries involved. A person was allegedly operating in a discrete office within the Tughans building and people who served on the Northern Ireland advisory committee of NAMA were involved with this issue. That is very serious and I do not buy the line that NAMA just accepted assurances, with that being the end of the matter. It is not the end of the matter. Just as with previous occasions, the Government has been slow to come to the mark on issues like this. I put it to the Minister that the Government must review its response to the issue and establish a commission of investigation to get to the truth.”

Bruton: “It is important to point out to the Deputy that the fee arrangement to which he refers did not involve NAMA in any way.”

Martin: “I did not say it did. Nobody is saying that.”

Bruton: “These fee arrangements were on the side of the buyer and not the seller of the loans. NAMA was not involved in any way and no payment was made by NAMA in any respect of these fees. That was not the case.”

Martin: “Do not look to answer questions that were not asked.”

Bruton: “The issue of how NAMA conducted its business is very clear. That has been overseen and supervised by the Committee of Public Accounts and the Comptroller and Auditor General has somebody embedded in NAMA. NAMA’s board is appointed by the Oireachtas to get best value and to have this level of Oireachtas oversight. We have a unique level of Oireachtas oversight with respect to this body and the opportunities are there for Members to raise issues at the Committee of Public Accounts, where they have the support of the Comptroller and Auditor General, an expert in forensic accounting advice who is the auditor to NAMA and who will have gone through these issues. Thursday’s meeting offers an opportunity to deal with the NAMA involvement. There are clearly other issues regarding fees paid on the other side of the trade and they are of public concern. I understand the Northern Ireland Assembly is investigating those, as is the Law Society, with respect to the solicitor involved. There are investigations of those matters under way.”

Hmmm.

Anyone?

Transcript via Oireachtas.ie

Earlier: ‘What Did They Get The €5m For?’

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From top: Nama chairman Frank Daly, Nama CEO and Independent TD Shane Ross in the Public Accounts Committee this morning

Nama executives went before the Public Accounts Committee this morning in light of the Northern Ireland portfolio/Project Eagle sale to Cerberus.

You’ll recall how, prior to Cerberus’ purchase, global asset management firm Pimco has claimed it was approached on an unsolicited basis by third parties with a proposal relating to the potential purchase of the Northern Ireland portfolio from Nama.

During the proceedings, Nama told the committee members that Pimco told it about a £15m fee arrangement with £5m earmarked for Frank Cushnahan, a former member of Nama’s Northern Ireland advisory committee.

From the proceedings:

Frank Daly: “I am very firm in my conviction that Mr [Frank] Cushnahan, or Mr [Brian] Rowntree indeed, did not glean any confidential information, or any useful insider information from being a member of that committee…”

Shane Ross: “What did they get €5million for?”

Daly: “I’m not going to speculate on that. But you could ask I mean, what were they paying him €5million for, you’d have to ask Pimco. You would have to ask elsewhere about that.”

Ross:Kind of mind boggling though isn’t it that they’d go ask a guy to act for them and pay him an acquisition fee of €5million, if it’s just an ordinary Joe Soap off the street who didn’t know anything about the portfolio. He had an office as well?”

Daly: “I don’t disagree with your theory but all I can say to you is that from his work with Nama on the Northern Ireland advisory committee, he did not gain any inside knowledge of the portfolio. But remember, right, we’re talking about Northern Ireland and we’re talking about a relatively small business community where there is an awful lot of information out there about debtors, developers, properties, who’s in Nama, who’s not in Nama. It didn’t come from Nama. But it is there.”

Ross: “He had an office in Tughans, didn’t he, Mr Cushnahan?”

Daly: “Well he had, as I understand it, he had the use of an office in Tughans.”

Ross: “Did that worry you?”

Daly:No it didn’t. If we knew then what we know now, a lot of things would worry us but at that time it didn’t worry us, no.”

Ross:But you knew he had an office in Tughans at the time the bidding was going on?”

Daly: “At the time the bidding was going on?”

Ross: “Yeah.”

Daly: “Yes, he had the use of an office, that’s what Tughans have said.”

Ross: “Did that not set alarm bells ringing?”

Daly:There was nothing at that stage, deputy, about any fee payment or any involvement, alleged involvement by Frank Cushnahan in this process. He was gone, he was gone from the Northern Ireland Advisory Committee in November 2013. We first heard, first heard, of any suggestion about his involvement with Pimco in March 2014. He was about 3, 4, 5 months gone.”

Ross: “That was during the bidding process though. The bidding process was under way when you heard about it.”

Daly: “Oh yes, that’s why we threw Pimco out, or sorry, got Pimco to withdraw.”

Ross: “But, and I’m not saying that you acted dishonourably, I’m just saying that that was just another factor that should have made you say this whole thing is flawed, This whole process is flawed. There is something wrong at every turn and there’s something suspicious going on and at that stage I would have thought that you might have been worried about the price you were getting at the end because there was so much going on in the undergrowth and in the background that you didn’t know about.
Let me just ask this question: there was millions sloshing around, there was 15million, one guy getting 5 million; there were all sorts of potential conflicts of interest happening here; there were political sensitivities and you ploughed ahead, ploughed ahead and said, ‘OK, we’ll take the Cerebrus bid’.”

Daly: “We didn’t plough ahead, we went ahead. After consideration, saying, ‘are we still getting  the best price that’s obtainable for this portfolio? Is there still competitive tension? There were still two bidders in there – seven of them had dropped out.
There wasn’t huge interest, by the way, in this portfolio, I must say, you know, and in the nine who came into the process, I think almost any company that would have had the scale to deal with this and the financial backing to actually deliver on it was invited in. Most of them backed out. This was not something that a whole lot of people were interested in.”

Brendan McDonagh: “And also to add to that, deputy, we were very clear at the start, we said to people, to Lazards don’t even think of bidding, or don’t even think of wasting your money bidding on this portfolio. We have a minimum reserve price of 1.3billion [Sterling] because we know the costs of due diligence that firms are going to send on it and we don’t want people wasting their money on a portfolio that they’re not going to pay up for so, at the start of the process in January, 1.3billion, at the need of the process, in April, we achieved 1.3billion sterling. So there was no question that we didn’t get the price that we valued the portfolio at.”

Meanwhile…

Follow the proceedings live here

Follow a live blog by Irish News on the proceedings here

Previously: Project Eagle And The €3.5Billion Haircut

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Mick Wallace (top) this afternoon; Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson (right and his son Gareth last year.

A multi-headed monster.

From Greece (!)

“Yeah, he [Peter Robinson] very categorically came out and declared that he had no interest whatsoever, hadn’t gained anything as a result of this particular transaction carried out in the name of Northern Ireland with this company Cerberus.

A fascinating name, it comes from Greek mythology actually, a three-headed, multi-headed, three-headed dog which guarded  the gates of Hades…hence this monster of a story now and it’s really turned into a monster story which is consuming every lawyer and every barrister in Northern Ireland and stretching now deeply into Dublin on the back of [Independent TD] Mick Wallace’s claims in the Dáil – some of which I actually challenge.

In fact, the offshore account was not rumbled as a result of an audit, a routine audit of Tughans’ accounts. In fact, my understanding is that the managing partner at the centre of this controversy, who’s no longer working with Tughans, actually advised his fellow partners there was a big payment coming down the line and, eventually, a fee….”

Veteran Northern Ireland journalist Eamon Mallie on Today with Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One this morning.

Previously: Project Eagle And The €3.5billion Haircut

Pic: Pacemaker

Meanwhile…

 

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Mick Wallace’s response to an invitation from John McGuinness, chairman of The Public Accounts Committee, this afternoon.

Via Mick Wallace

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Independent TD Mick Wallace in Dáil this morning

Independent TD Mick Wallace raised concerns about Nama during Leader’s Questions in the Dáil earlier today.

“The Northern Ireland loan portfolio, Project Eagle, involving over 850 properties with a par value of €4.5billion, was sold to US private equity firm, Cerberus Capital, for less than €1.5billion – a surprise winner of the tender. Tánaiste, in June 2012, following consultation with Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan and Mr Sammy Wilson, MLA, Nama reappointed Mr Frank Cushnahan and Mr Brian Rowntree to the [Nama] Northern Ireland Advisory Committee.”

“A few weeks later, a report by a Northern Ireland auditor’s office seriously questioned the stewardship of the Northern Ireland housing executive which led to the resignation of Brian Rowntree and Frank Cushnahan.

The report found breaches of a housing executive’s guidelines, in the sale of at least 27 land deals, executive board given wrong or no information relating to key property deals, favoured property speculators were allowed to buy land well under market value. Interest from other parties were not declared or considered and, at times, no reasons offered for some off market sales. Tanaiste, these two individuals stayed in Nama – one of them up until the summer of 2014…..

Later, Mr Wallace spoke again – before his microphone was turned off by the Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett.

Wallace: “The legal firm acting for Cerebus Capital, who actually purchased the Northern Ireland loan portfolio for €1.5billion was Tughans, of Belfast. Now it’s been reported that during a routine audit of Tughans…”

Sean Barrett: “Sorry this is not an inquisition. This is Leader’s Questions. Would you put a question? You’re out of your time.”

Wallace: “It’s reported Tánaiste…”

Barrett: “You can’t use the chamber to make cases against people who are not here to defend themselves and you know the regulations as well as I do and you’ve been reminded often enough. Now please stick to the Standing Orders or else I’ll have to cut you off. As your question.”

Wallace: “Ok. Ceann Comhairle we’re talking about billions of taxpayers’ money…”

Barrett: “This is not, there are other places to make these charges but not in the House here where people are not here to defend themselves. I don’t know anything about these people but there’s a rule and I have to apply the rules now please adhere to them.”

Wallace: “I’m not telling anything that’s…”

Barrett: “I’m just asking you to adhere by the rules of the House. If you wish the rules to change, bring them to the Committee of Procedure and Privileges. Now would you please put your question to the Tánaiste.”

Wallace: “Tanaiste, do you have any concerns that a routine audit of the solicitors’ firm that looked after  that particular deal, where €4.5billion of assets were sold for €1.5billion with a massive loss for the Irish taxpayer, a routine audit actually showed up where €7million in Sterling ended up in an Isle of Man…”

Barrett: “Deputy Wallace.”

Wallace:It was reportedly earmarked for a Northern Ireland politician or party…”

Barrett: “Would Deputy Wallace give all those details to An Garda Síochána? That is what it is there for.”

[Microphone  turned off]

Readers may wish to recall how, a few weeks ago, Independent TD Mick Wallace raised concerns about Nama in the Dáil.

On June 16, Mr Wallace told the Dáil:

“When NAMA was set up, the plan was that it would not flood the market with stressed assets. This was a special purpose vehicle that would await some form of recovery before maximising the assets in the interests of the taxpayer. That is not what has happened. For some strange reason, NAMA has been in a hurry to fire sale assets for less than their real value despite the fact it is a rising market.”

“…I will give two examples. An office block on Mount Street was sold off market in 2012 by NAMA to US fund Northwood for €27 million. In 2014, Northwood sold it for €42 million. Most of the money was financed by NAMA in the first place. This is in a country where small and medium-sized businesses cannot get a cent out of financial institutions. NAMA sold the Forum building in the IFSC in 2012 to US private equity firm Atlas Capital for €28 million. Less than two years later, it was sold for €37.8 million, a 35% profit. If the Taoiseach thinks this is good business, I think otherwise.”

Gavin

Gavin Sheridan, of TheStory.ie

The FOI-inator Gavin Sheridan has been battling for five years to seek certain information in relation to NAMA.

Writing on thestory.ie last week, he explained:

“Back in February 2010, we sent a request to NAMA seeking certain information under the Access to Information on the Environment (AIE) Regulations. NAMA had just been established. We sent a similar request to Anglo Irish Bank. Both rejected our requests on the basis that they did not see themselves as public authorities under those regulations. We disagreed.

“For 5 years the case has wound its way through the system, from a Commissioner ruling in September 2011 (which went in our favour), to High Court hearings in 2012 and two High Court judgments in early 2013 (the judge ruled against NAMA on both the substantive issue and on the issue of a stay, pending a Supreme Court appeal). We had to seek, and were granted, an expedited hearing after NAMA appealed both. There were almost two days of hearings in the Supreme Court in 2014, before five judges.”

“The issue to be decided, among others, is what the term “and includes” means in the Regulations, and whether NAMA/Anglo, by virtue of being listed in 3(1) under the definition of public authority at parts vi) and vii), are in fact public authorities.

“If the court rules as we believe it should, then NAMA becomes a public authority under AIE, and all bodies listed in parts i) to vii) of 3(1) of the Regulations become de facto public authorities (below), and we will finally have legal clarity.

(i) a Minister of the Government,

(ii) the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland,

(iii) a local authority for the purposes of the Local Government Act 2001 (No. 37 of 2001),

(iv) a harbour authority within the meaning of the Harbours Act 1946 (No. 9 of 1946),

(v) the Health Service Executive established under the Health Act 2004 (No. 42 of 2004),

(vi) a board or other body (but not including a company under the Companies Acts) established by or under statute,

(vii) a company under the Companies Acts, in which all the shares are held—

(I) by or on behalf of a Minister of the Government,

(II) by directors appointed by a Minister of the Government,

(III) by a board or other body within the meaning of paragraph (vi), or

(IV) by a company to which subparagraph (I) or (II) applies, having public administrative functions and responsibilities, and possessing environmental information;

Well, the judgment is in…

Fair play in fairness.

Read this morning’s judgment in full here

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He’s back, baby.

‘Neur we to judge?

Ronan on verge of Nama exit backed by $20bn US fund (Tom Lyons, Irish Times)

Previously: Rooney, Ronan, Rosanna And Glenda: That Weekend Love Rectangle In Full

That Kind Of Week