Tag Archives: Nama

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From left: Frank Daly, Brendan McDonagh and Martin Whelan, of Nama, at the Committee on Housing and Homelessness yesterday

Yesterday, Nama’s chairman Frank Daly, CEO Brendan McDonagh and head of public affairs Martin Whelan appeared before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing and Homelessness.

During their appearance they discussed hoarding, among other matters.

Grab a tay.

Brendan McDonagh: “Another message that is being put out is that we are hoarding land and that if we only released more land into the market, the private sector would avail of the opportunity and build.”

“The reality is that since the start of 2014, in 24 months, we have sold land that could deliver 20,000 units into the private sector. We monitor that land to see what is happening with it. Only about 5% of that land is being built on at present. Members ask why the people who bought it did not build on it.

“Sometimes people might be looking for revised planning or waiting for a new county, area or development plan. Sometimes there might be an issue in respect of densities, a revised planning application and seeking more semi-detached houses rather than apartments, which requires a new planning application.”

“Infrastructure constraints are certainly there. One of the largest issues – from looking at transcripts, we know the committee has discussed it – is people buying land and effectively looking for a higher rate of return. This has to be a big feature.”

Later

Eoin O’Broin: “We also discussed the issue of land. I am aware that, as in the case of the housing units, NAMA does not own land but holds the debts relating to it. However, in the Fingal area – I am sure Deputy Coppinger will know more about this issue than I – one of the problems facing the local authority is the absence of publicly owned land.”

“As part of the social dividend set out in section 2 of the NAMA Act, could the agency transfer land owned by its debtors to the State, either at no cost or a low cost, for the provision of social housing?”

“Mr [Frank] Daly spoke about special development zones, SDZs, and their benefits. The Clonburris SDZ is the last major parcel of development land in the South Dublin County Council area. The majority of these lands, perhaps two thirds of them, are privately owned. I assume the owners of at least a chunk of this land are debtors of NAMA and have a relationship with the agency.”

“Could innovative ideas that have not yet been discussed in the public domain be brought to bear to maximise the delivery of social units in this SDZ?”

Later

Frank Daly: “Section 10 is very clear in that NAMA has a commercial remit and its objective must be to obtain the best financial return for the State.”

“In our reading of the Act, this is its primary purpose and the one which overrides everything else.”

“That is what drives us but we are also driven by a belief that the debt, whether the €32 billion that we started off with or the €7 billion senior debt we currently hold, is a contingent liability on the State and impacts in a greater sense on the State’s standing in the money markets and its capacity to borrow.”

Later

Ruth Coppinger: “The other issue is the hoarding of land which NAMA has been involved in. It is not just me saying it. The Minister, Deputy Michael Noonan, has said it in replies to parliamentary questions. It was not until 2014 that NAMA started releasing land for housing.”

“Meanwhile, the housing crisis was building up and NAMA had all this land. It is, therefore, about time that there was an honest discussion about the role the previous and current Governments, in setting up NAMA, have played in allowing housing to become very scarce.”

“For example, in a housing forum last month, NAMA said it had sold enough land for 20,500 units since 2014 “in the most sought-after areas of the capital, the commuter counties of Wicklow, Kildare, Meath and Louth and the cities of Cork, Limerick and Galway”.”

“At the height of the housing crisis and in the areas where the crisis is worse, NAMA has sold enough land for those units. By the way, only 1,100 units have been built on that land, indicating developers have been hoarding land while waiting for house prices and profits to rise.”

“That is the key problem. The private sector is in control of housing in this country and it is being facilitated by NAMA as it is currently set up.”

“I would argue NAMA encourages developers to hoard land and it let a housing shortage develop. I do not have time to give all the quotes.”

“However, for example, a report on a freedom of information request in The Irish Independentlast month shows that the Minister for Finance, Deputy Michael Noonan, wrote to NAMA saying it must bring land to market more quickly to stop developers hoarding sites. He went on to say that NAMA was contributing to the problem.”

“Why was that decision taken when even the Minister himself had to intervene?”

“On the social housing spend to date and that projected in the NAMA wind-up, NAMA brags about the €260 million it contributed to social housing but it had a turnover of €34 billion. That is the problem; it is so minuscule.”

“Why has so little been spent on new social housing? I know NAMA’s primary aim is financial return. There seems to be no social element to NAMA whatsoever.”

Later

Daly: “The general point is that it is back to the question about how we interpret our mandate under the Act, the responsibilities we have and what we can do under the Act.”

“I have already spoken about these in response to Deputy Ó Broin’s questions. Short of repeating myself, we have to act in accordance with the mandate and the responsibilities in the NAMA Act.”

“We cannot go outside that. We have to get the best financial return we can for the taxpayer and to do that as expeditiously as possible – that is in the Act as well.
That is a primary driver for us.”

Later

Mick Wallace: “NAMA wrote a letter to the Minister on 28 September 2015, which included the following, “At our meeting with you on 15 September you requested that the NAMA board assess the increased contribution that NAMA could make to residential delivery if it were to be given a new mandate to maximise the delivery of housing in the period to end-2020.” I accept that the Minister for Finance only started to talk about a new mandate in September 2015.”

“NAMA wrote back to him, stating, “During the meeting you stated your endorsement of the board’s objective of redeeming all senior debt by 2018 and the repayment of subordinated debt in March 2020 and you indicated that, in your view, achievement of these senior and subordinated debt repayment targets should take precedence over the provision of funding that would be required for NAMA residential projects in any revised strategy.”

“Am I to understand that NAMA has been strongly dictated to by the Minister for Finance, or am I misreading that?”

Later

Daly: “We are an independent board. Our mandate is the Act. We do engage with the Minister from time to time, and it would be wrong of us not to do so. Generally, we would have a review of our strategy every year.”

“Sometimes he would come along to that and engage with us but at the end of the day the strategy for NAMA, by and large, is that of the board, and we can talk about that right from the beginning.”

Transcript via Oireachtas.ie

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A response from chairman of Nama Frank Daly to the Northern Ireland Finance and Personnel Committee this evening.

It follows the publication of the Stormont committee’s report on the sale of Northern Ireland’s property loan portfolio, Project Eagle – which was critical of Nama and Finance Minister Michael Noonan.

Previously: Contradictions And Refusals

Spotlight Falls On Noonan

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A statement from Belfast property developer Gareth Graham.

Mr Graham has settled his court action against US company Cerberus, the firm which eventually bought Nama’s Northern Ireland property loan portfolio, Project Eagle – which had a par value of €5.7billion – for €1.6billion.

Hmmm.

Action against US company Cerberus settled by businessman (Irish Times)

Previously: Contradictions And Refusals

Spotlight Falls On Noonan

Pic Mark Tighe

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Independent TD Mick Wallace and BBC One’s Mark Carruthers

Yes.

Independent TD Mick Wallace will be speaking to Mark Carruthers about Stormont’s report on the sale of Nama’s Northern Ireland property loan portfolio.

At 10.45pm on BBC One.

UPDATE: Newstalk’s George Hook, Una Mullally, of the Irish Times, and Claire McGing, of Maynooth University, will also feature.

Previously: Contradictions And Refusals

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Chairman of NAMA Frank Daly and Finance Minister Michael Noonan

You may recall the sale of Nama’s property loan portfolio in Northern Ireland – the biggest loss on a Nama loan sale for Irish taxpayers.

The sale is now the subject of investigation by the National Crime Agency in the UK and the Securities and Exchange Commission in the US.

You may also recall how Stormont’s Committee for Finance and Personnel carried out a ‘fact-finding’ review of the sale for eight months.

Publication of an 18-page report on the progress of this review was embargoed until just after midnight this morning.

It criticised Nama and Finance Minister Michael Noonan – specifically for Nama refusing to give oral evidence to the committee; for Minister Noonan not encouraging Nama to give the same; and for Minister Noonan not stopping the sale of the Northern Ireland portfolio once he became aware that bidders PIMCO were due to send a sum of money to Northern Ireland Nama advisor, Frank Cushnahan.

From the report…

For its part, DFP [Department of Finance and Personnel] provided initial oral evidence and papers on 23 July 2015, but subsequently delayed providing further evidence until 9 October 2015, after it had concluded an internal file review and engaged with the NCA.

NAMA, on the other hand, while agreeing to answer questions in writing, refused to give oral evidence. The reason cited by NAMA is that the appropriate forum to which it should account for its activities is the Oireachtas and to committees established by the Oireachtas.

While the Committee does not dispute this point, it believes greater co-operation from NAMA would have assisted it in fully understanding the DFP-NAMA relationship since 2009.

And:

As with the oral and written evidence received from the other stakeholders, including the documents received from the Republic of Ireland’s (RoI) Department of Finance and NAMA, the Committee placed the DFP papers in the public domain, except for seventeen documents relating to individual borrowers.

In this latter case, DFP cited data protection and commercial sensitivity concerns for its request that the documents were not to be released. The Committee, however, took legal advice on this matter and continues to pursue the issue with DFP.

And:

In addition to the aforementioned evidence gathering exercise, the Committee accepted an invite from the Dáil Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to make a formal address on the progress of the review. This invitation was made in light of the respective committee inquiries into the Project Eagle sale.

During the address on 1 October 2015, the Chairperson also took the opportunity to point out that there was an increased onus on NAMA to appear before the Committee, even simply out of courtesy and respect for the institutions in Northern Ireland.

And:

The Committee notes with regret the decision of the NAMA Board not to suspend the Project Eagle sales process once PIMCO had disclosed to the Agency in March 2014 that PIMCO’s proposed fee arrangement with the Brown Rudnick international law firm included also the payment of fees to Tughans, a Belfast law firm, and to a former external member of NAMA NIAC. From the evidence to date, the Committee considers this development to be a core area of concern within the entire sale and purchase process. The need for further information and clarification in this regard underlines the case for NAMA attending an oral hearing of the Committee.

Whilst it is does not fall to this Committee to pursue, given the seriousness of the revelation by PIMCO, it is unclear why the Irish Government’s Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, did not intervene at this point, by exercising his general powers of direction over NAMA to suspend the sales process until matters were investigated fully. The Committee also notes that Minister Noonan did not inform the Northern Ireland Executive of this development. In addition, the Committee regrets that Minister Noonan did not encourage NAMA to attend an oral hearing of the Committee.

And:

The Committee established that NAMA ‘…had no knowledge of meetings between Mr Cushnahan and prospective purchasers of NAMA-secured assets in Northern Ireland…’ including whilst he was on the NAMA NIAC. This is deeply concerning to the Committee.

And:

The Committee also noted from the BBC (NI) Spotlight programme that the other former external member of the NAMA NIAC, 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. For example, in written evidence to the Committee on 27 November 2015, NAMA stated that the external members of the NAMA NIAC ‘never had access to confidential information’. Furthermore, in evidence to the Dáil PAC on 9 July 2015, the NAMA Chairman, Mr Frank Daly, stated that the external members of the NAMA NIAC ‘did not gain any confidential information or any useful insider information from being a member of that advisory committee’.

Therefore, given these seemingly contradictory positions, the Committee recommends that a full examination is made of what precisely was discussed at the NAMA NIAC meetings and what information was shared with the NIAC members.

And:

The Committee found the refusal of NAMA to attend an oral evidence session particularly unhelpful. NAMA needed to be more open and accessible given the importance of the Project Eagle portfolio to the Northern Ireland economy. The Committee does not accept NAMA’s rationale for not attending an oral hearing of the Committee, especially given that Agency representatives have previously held many meetings with Ministers and officials in Northern Ireland.

Read the report in full here

Previously: Spotlight Falls On Noonan

Mark Stedman/Rollingnews

H/T: Namawinelake

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From top: Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Michael Noonan and Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson; Minutes of a meeting between Mr Robinson and Mr Noonan in which they discuss the sale of Northern Ireland’s Nama portfolio; and a clip of a secretly recorded meeting involving Frank Cushnahan – both on BBC Northern Ireland’s Spotlight last night

You may recall how Independent TD Mick Wallace, on several occasions in the Dáil last year, raised concerns about the sale of Nama’s Northern Ireland property portfolio, Project Eagle, in 2014.

On the first occasion, in July 2015, his microphone was turned off.

On another, in October 2015, after making yet another call for a Commission of Investigation into the Project Eagle sale, Mr Wallace told Taoiseach Enda Kenny:

“The Irish people have not been served well by Nama. It stinks to high heaven and you are involved in the cover-up because you refuse to do anything about it.”

The sale is now the subject of investigation by the National Crime Agency in the UK and the Securities and Exchange Commission in the US.

Further to this.

Last night, BBC Northern Ireland’s Spotlight programme, presented by Mandy McAuley, outlined the sequence of events which led to the portfolio eventually being sold to US private equity firm, Cerebus Capital.

Contributors to the programme included Sunday Business Post journalist Elaine Byrne and Independent Alliance TD and Sunday Independent journalist Shane Ross.

Ms McAuley first explained how former banker Frank Cushnahan is an “incredibly well-connected” Belfast businessman who, nine years ago, left his position as an advisor to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive to become chairman of east Belfast firm Red Sky – a company that worked for the Housing Executive.

She explained that Mr Cushnahan convinced the Housing Executive to forgive most of Red Sky’s debts so that its debts went from £250,000 to £20,000.

His behaviour was later criticised by a Stormont investigation which found his actions to be “totally unethical and could and should have been avoided”.

Two years later, in 2009, £4.5billion of Nama’s debt was owed by developers in Northern Ireland and politicians feared there would be a fire sale of property, prompting property rises to drop – a fear Northern Ireland’s Finance Minister Sammy Wilson told BBC’s Spotlight in 2011.

These fears, Ms McAuley explained, prompted the establishment of Nama’s Northern Ireland Advisory Committee.

And who did Sammy Wilson choose to sit on that committee?

Frank Cushnahan – who, Ms McAuley reported, held clinics for developers in Nama, where he would tell developers “how to survive” Nama.

Continue reading

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A video compilation showing Independent TD Mick Wallace’s efforts to highlight his concerns surrounding Nama over the past several months.

It follows the Commercial Court granting summary judgment for €2million against Mr Wallace earlier today – in relation to an Ulster Bank loan taken over by a company called Promontoria (Aran) Limited, a subsidiary of Cerberus Capital.

Mr Wallace had argued that the assignment of the loan to Promontoria was not valid but Mr Justice Brian McGovern disagreed.

Previously: ‘Cerberus Told Me I Was Going To Get Sorted’

High Court grants judgement for €2m against Mick Wallace (RTE)

Video by Strawberry Films

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Former Nama adviser Frank Cushnahan

Five months after Independent TD Mick Wallace first raised concerns about the sale of Nama’s northern Ireland portfolio in the Dáil…

BBC reports:

“The National Asset Management Agency (Nama) has written to a former adviser asking him why he did not disclose potential conflicts of interest.

“Frank Cushnahan sat on Nama’s Northern Ireland advisory committee from 2010 until November 2013.”

“A Stormont inquiry heard he met the Pimco investment fund in May 2013 to discuss Nama’s Northern Ireland loans.”

“Nama has asked him to comment on how he determined he was not required to tell them about that meeting.”

It has also asked him to provide details of any other meetings with Pimco or “other parties” in relation to the possible sale of the Northern Ireland loans portfolio.

“Mr Cushnahan went on to advise Pimco after he left his Nama role and was in line to receive a £5m fee if its bid for the portfolio was successful, an Irish parliamentary committee was told.”

“… Nama has also asked Mr Cushnahan why he did not disclose his shareholding in the Graham property group, which was a Nama debtor.”

“…Mr Cushnahan has always denied any wrongdoing in relation to his Nama role.”

Meanwhile…


Nama deal: Frank Cushnahan asked to explain non-disclosure of potential conflicts of interest (BBC)

Cushnahan may face State ethics watchdog over Project Eagle deal (Irish Times)

Previously: ‘Nama’s Answer To My Question Is Not True’

The Eagle Has Landed

“What Did They Get The €5million For?”

Project Eagle And The €3.5 Billion Haircut

Pic: Irish News