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

27 thoughts on “Contradictions And Refusals

  1. Eoin

    I’m going to get no work done today. Gotta read up on YET MORE potential corruption in the state. Don’t they realise they are impeding general productivity by forcing us to do our own reading up and investigations into potential corruption? I’d say if you add up all the hours lost…..

    1. ahjayzis

      Not to mention the impact on worker morale constantly discovering we’re being fleeced, robbed and sold out for the enriching of crooks is bound to have.

  2. Pablo Pistachio

    The silence and lack of coverage from certain media outlets on this is quite telling. The old ‘if we don’t make a big deal of it, people will believe it’s not a big deal’ trick.
    I’ll tell you what is a big deal. Noonan handing NAMA employees redundancy ‘top-ups’ of €30,000 just before the election and while people were dying on hospital trolleys. It could amount to €6.5m.
    Anyway, back to alleged corruption. It is Ireland after all, let’s pretend it never happened.

  3. ivan

    I’m guessing a whole slew of ‘Mr Noonan is seriously ill’ stories to start circulating now, so it’ll be unfair to hound an old, sick man, followed by a nice quick resignation of seat due to health grounds, and then we can all kiss his backside…

      1. ivan

        Well, yes, of course, but *now* he’ll *actually* be dead. So…so…so…you know…that’s good, isn’t it

        1. ivan

          And that line will work so much better if you read it in the voice of John Fortune doing a sketch with John Bird…

    1. Sheik Yahbouti

      Mr Noonan is a truly evil man IMHO. Don’t look into his eyes, Bealzibub will look back at you. I wish him ill luck.

  4. ahyeah

    Is there no way this + the Cynthia Owen scandal + the Grace scandal can be blamed on the Shinness! ?!

  5. AshbourneFanny

    These short summaries of long-running issues with sections of the accompanying source quoted are a very good way for the casual observer to stay up to speed on complicated episodes where the truth comes out very gradually.

    Some might call it being spoon-fed but it pisses all over more traditional coverage that is often devoid of context. Thanks Broadsheet.

  6. Toni The Exotic Dancer

    This is the biggest scandal to hit this scandal ridden state. We should be out protesting more. It’s the only way these clowns will listen.

    1. Cup of tea anyone?

      If only there was a general election or something where we could vote out the two biggest corruptest parties…..Oh right there was and we didn’t. Great stuff.

  7. nellyb

    The case appears fully outsourced to UK.
    In lieu of legal virility – why don’t we send all DPP stuff straight to magistrate courts?
    Imagine the savings…

  8. Anne

    We’re a fupping laughing stock in this country..no over sight of this agency put in charge of tens of billions funded by the taxpayer, answerable to no one, no accountability.
    They want everything redacted.. none of the taxpayers business whatsoever. Don’t want to answer questions. They’ll invite the Stormont’s Committee down here and won’t even show up. The arrogance.

    NAMA have given false information to Mick Wallace.. what else are they hiding?
    He’s been saying there are officials in Nama taking brides of 15k/30k.
    He’d said he’s been personally threatened with getting ‘sorted’… which seems to be the case, with some of his own affairs, with Cerberus getting his loans transferred to them. You couldn’t make the sh*te up..

    These northern lads don’t seem to be going away any time soon… terribly inconvenient isn’t it.
    Baldy will get his day in the sunshine yet, the arrogant fupp.

  9. Anne

    I’ll just leave this here too..

    http://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/time-to-wrestle-mysterious-cerberus-out-into-the-light-1.2564860

    “It uses a series of Dublin-registered subsidiary companies to hold property loans that it bought in Ireland, Britain and other European countries. They are in turn controlled by another set of Dutch-based Cerberus subsidiaries. These lent the Irish firms money at high interest rates to buy the debts. The repayments are so high that they eat up most of the profits.
    Tax affairs
    Their figures show that six of those companies generated income of about €350 million in 2014 and repaid €245 million in interest.
    After taking out their costs, they paid a total of €15,500 in tax, less than most working people. Cerberus will not answer questions about its tax affairs….”

    Charging themselves to the hilt with high interest rates.. and paying 15k in taxes. 15 fupping k.

  10. Anne

    “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.”

    It doesn’t sound like those documents are redacted, otherwise I don’t think the dept of finance would be requesting that they not be released.
    If the committee have sought legal advise, why are they continuing to ‘pursue the issue’ with the dept of finance?
    Are they looking for their permission? From a bunch of gombeens who are being accused of taking bribes..? I suppose they have to work with them… Joke.

  11. Anne

    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.

    I think the missing words there for the ellipses are – that NAMA *claimed they* had no knowledge..

    Didn’t the spotlight programme and Mick Wallace show that Nama were lying about this?
    https://www.broadsheet.ie/2015/11/26/namas-answer-to-my-question-is-not-true/

  12. Anne

    “Ronnie Hanna (NAMA) was part of a cabal to seek payment for affecting the biggest property deal in the history of the State.”

    Mick said he’s been in touch with the gardai about this.

    As we can see, they’re well capable of going after criminal gangs, as of recent..
    What’s the latest on investigations into Ronnie Hanna and this cabal?

    Are we going to see cars and homes seized any time soon?
    How about being inconvenienced and hauled in to answer a few questions even?

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