Enda Kenny meeting opposition leaders to discuss Nama sale of Northern portfolio

Enda Kenny meeting opposition leaders to discuss Nama sale of Northern portfolio

The Taoiseach will meet opposition leaders this afternoon to discuss the sale of Nama's Northern portfolio.

Meanwhile, Mick Wallace said this morning that we are "still a long way from the truth" behind the sale.

Enda Kenny meeting opposition leaders to discuss Nama sale of Northern portfolio

A report from the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG )published yesterday found that the State lost £192m on the sale.

Nama board member Brian McInerney has defended the deal, saying the agency got the best price possible at the time.

"When somebody is buying something like that en masse from you, they will put in a 'business risk' discount. In other words, they have acquired the risk of working out that portfolio," he said.

'Success fees'

The Government has ordered an inquiry into the controversial £1.2bn sale of Northern Ireland property assets by Nama.

After months of allegations and revelations, Taoiseach Enda Kenny took the unprecedented step of asking opposition leaders to set out their concerns as he decides how the investigation should be conducted, and he will meet them today to discuss those concerns.

The C&AG report found Nama lost up to £190m on the Project Eagle sale to US investment fund Cerberus in 2014 and that Nama undervalued loans associated with the 800 properties in the portfolio when it slapped on a £1.3bn price tag.

Enda Kenny meeting opposition leaders to discuss Nama sale of Northern portfolio

It warned Nama that it should have been concerned after one bidder, US investment fund Pimco, alerted it to a "success fee" payment of £15-16m for three parties behind the scenes and pulled out of the process.

The C&AG said Nama was warned by Pimco that the money was to be shared equally by Frank Cushnahan, Nama's former Northern Ireland adviser, Brown Rudnick, a US law firm which ultimately acted for two bidders in the sale and a managing partner of Tughans, a Belfast law firm subcontracted to assist in the deal.

Mr Cushnahan (pictured) has denied any wrongdoing.

The watchdog's audit found Nama was subsequently told by Cerberus that it had a separate "success fee" arrangement with Brown Rudnick and Tughans and money would be split 50/50.

The C&AG report also revealed that Nama reported a net loss of £162m on sales of assets held by Northern Ireland debtors in 2014.

The Isle of Man link

The Project Eagle deal with Cerberus has been dogged by scandal for more than a year, including £7m linked to it being found in an Isle of Man bank account.

Former managing partner of Tughans, Ian Coulter, resigned after it was unearthed.

Nama said it categorically rejected the C&AG's findings and insisted it got the best price and one that could not be beaten today.

"There is nothing in the report that changes the unanimous view of the Nama board that the Project Eagle sale was the best achievable outcome for the state either back in 2014 or now in a post-Brexit environment," chairman Frank Daly said.

Project Eagle will first be examined by the Public Accounts Committee in Dublin. Meetings are planned for the end of September and early October, first with Nama executives and then Finance Minister Michael Noonan.

Enda Kenny meeting opposition leaders to discuss Nama sale of Northern portfolio

One of the big issues in the midst of the controversies has been the cross-border aspect of the deal, in particular the inability of parliaments to compel witnesses from overseas.

Investigations have been launched by the UK's National Crime Agency, the US Department of Justice's Securities and Exchange Commission as well as a parliamentary inquiry in Stormont.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams described the offer of an inquiry as welcome but belated. He called for governments and statutory agencies in the north and south to give maximum co-operation to the inquiry.

Nama profits

Nama was set up in 2010 to take loans linked to property investments off our bailed-out banks at a discount.

It is on course to make a more than €1.75bn profit on its deals by 2020 but has faced repeated questions over its handling of Project Eagle.

Cerberus offered £1.241bn - just £11m above a reserve price reduced by £70m in the days before final bids were entered.

The only other bidder, Fortress, offered £1.075bn.

Nama previously revealed some of the assets in the Project Eagle portfolio were worth as little as 5p in the pound.

The C&AG said there is no indication that Nama had considered a bulk sale of its Northern Ireland assets until US law firm Brown Rudnick wrote on behalf of US investment fund Pimco in June 2013 offering an exclusive deal.

Tughans insisted it was not aware of the £7m transfer to the Isle of Man.

All parties involved in the 2014 transaction have denied wrongdoing.

More on this topic

NAMA review finds it has made 'exceptional progress', will manage loan book beyond 2021NAMA review finds it has made 'exceptional progress', will manage loan book beyond 2021

Nama forced into €2m settlement with Revenue, correspondence revealsNama forced into €2m settlement with Revenue, correspondence reveals

'It is very frustrating to see it': Developers buy back Nama loans at discounts'It is very frustrating to see it': Developers buy back Nama loans at discounts

Taxpayers let down over historic assurances about NamaTaxpayers let down over historic assurances about Nama


More in this Section

Celebrating Wicklow GAA champions injured in horror fallCelebrating Wicklow GAA champions injured in horror fall

Don't tell rural Ireland how to live, Healy-Rae tells GreensDon't tell rural Ireland how to live, Healy-Rae tells Greens

The lotto results are in...The lotto results are in...

Micheál Martin: Election set for 2020, unless Taoiseach tries to 'pull a stroke'Micheál Martin: Election set for 2020, unless Taoiseach tries to 'pull a stroke'


Lifestyle

Halloween has really upped the ante in recent years here, hasn’t it?We have moved on considerably since the days of a bin liner fashioned with holes for arms and necks

Sandhoppers for breakfast? It’s just not cricketCrickets for lunch anyone? Time - is running out - to get over our western food prejudices

Why did the Neanderthals go extinct?, asks Richard CollinsDid ear and chest infections wipe out our neanderthal ancestors?

Corkbeg Island near the mouth of Cork Harbour is today an industrial location with Ireland’s only oil refinery whose silver cylinders dominate the low-lying island like giant mugs, writes Dan McCarthy. Islands of Ireland: 'Tanks' for the memories Corkbeg

More From The Irish Examiner