Latest: Gerry Adams: PAC report highlights need for commission of investigation

Latest: Gerry Adams: PAC report highlights need for commission of investigation

Update 7.30pm: Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has called for a commission of investigation to be established following the publication of the report from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on its examination of NAMA's sale of the Project Eagle portfolio.

"Sinn Féin has always asserted that maximum co-operation between the governments and statutory agencies, both north and south, will be essential in uncovering the truth surrounding NAMA's sale of Project Eagle," Adams said.

"Today's report from the Public Accounts Committee further underscores the need for a commission of investigation to be established by the Oireachtas.

"The report questions the appropriateness of Michael Noonan's actions as Minister for Finance in regards to his meeting with senior Cerberus representatives the day before the closing date for the sale of Project Eagle.

"Equally, the conduct of senior DUP Ministers raises serious concerns, particularly since they refused to attend the meetings of the Public Accounts Committee on the matter.

"Citizens deserve to know the truth. They must have full confidence in any investigation that takes places.

"To ensure that this happens, the cross-border dimension to the debacle must inform the terms of reference and the scope of any investigation."

Latest: Gerry Adams: PAC report highlights need for commission of investigation

Update 4.30pm: Nama has claimed its controversial sale of its Northern Ireland loan book was the best possible outcome for the taxpayer, despite a loss to the taxpayer of €220 million.

Responding to the publication of the Public Accounts Committee’s damning report on the sale, Nama has insisted that the manner of its sale of the Project Eagle loans “provided a better financial outcome than any other monetisation strategy”.

In a statement released today, a Nama spokesman said: “It was the Board’s commercial and considered judgement, in full knowledge of the financial implications, that the sale of the Project Eagle loan portfolio provided a better financial outcome than any alternative monetisation strategy. That was the Board’s view in 2014 and it remains the Board’s view today”.

“NAMA disputes the suggestion that an alternative monetisation strategy would have delivered a better financial outcome. NAMA also disputes the suggestion that an additional estimated £190m (£162m on sale conclusion) could have been realised from an alternative sales process. No independent, third-party market-based analysis has been sought by, or provided to, the Committee to support either of these contentions,” the statement added.

NAMA said it “noted” rather than accepted the publication of the report by the Public Accounts Committee into Project Eagle.

It said it “co-operated fully” with the Committee since it began its review in September 2016.

This has included attendance on eight separate occasions at Committee meetings during which current and former Board members and NAMA executives responded to over 2,000 questions in relation to Project Eagle. In addition, NAMA has received some 229 written questions from the Committee and has provided over 1,500 pages of material in response.

“NAMA is satisfied that all relevant information held by it has been provided to the C&AG and to the PAC,” the statement said.

Nama has claimed the losses arising from the Eagle portfolio since acquisition, which were fully recognised in NAMA’s accounts, would have arisen irrespective of whether the portfolio was sold in 2014 or retained.

Deferring the sale would not have produced a better financial outcome – the commercial reality is that the Northern Ireland property market and many regional markets in northern Britain, where many of the portfolio’s underlying assets are located, have been challenging and are likely to remain challenging for the foreseeable future, Nama said.

Nama said it took full advantage of an unexpected commercial opportunity that emerged during the second half of 2013 to sell the Northern Ireland debtor loans as one portfolio. 

Latest: Gerry Adams: PAC report highlights need for commission of investigation

Update 12.50pm: NAMA made a loss of more than €220 million on its sale of its Northern Ireland loan book, the Dail’s Public Accounts Committee has found, writes Daniel McConnell and Juno McEnroe.

At a chaotic launch today of the report, Nama was severely criticised for destroying records and for its poor management of the sale.

But Fine Gael members of the committee dissented on a finding relating to Finance Minister Michael Noonan, who had "procedurally inappropriate" meetings with US firm Cerberus, the final buyer of the loan book.

Fine Gael’s Peter Burke called into question the decision of his own Taoiseach to hold a Commission of Investigation into Project Eagle.

The report found that NAMA’s sales strategy for its Northern Irish loanbook, code-named Project Eagle, was seriously deficient.

The sale led to a recorded loss of STG £162 on the transaction, with NAMA having recorded losses totalling €800 million in respect of its Northern Ireland loan portfolio in the period 2010-2014, the report found.

The Committee concluded that:

        • the sale of Project Eagle was not a well-designed sales process

        • NAMA’s failure to effect Mr Frank Cushnahan’s removal from NAMA’s Northern Ireland Advisory Committee, following his disclosures in relation to provision of consultancy services on behalf of a number of NAMA’s Northern Irish debtors, was a failure of corporate governance by NAMA

        • the NAMA Board was not explicitly informed of the extent of the financial loss which would be recorded in NAMA’s accounts as a result of setting the minimum reserve price of STG £1.3 billion

        • key elements of the Sales strategy were influenced by the firm, PIMCO, which made the initial approach to NAMA in respect of buying the Northern Ireland portfolio

        • the sales strategy pursued by NAMA included restrictions of such significance that the strategy could be described as seriously deficient

        • NAMA has been unable to demonstrate that by pursuing such a strategy that it got value for money for the Irish State in relation to the price achieved

Update 12.20pm: The Public Accounts Committee has concluded that the sales strategy pursued by Nama in the disposal of its Northern Ireland loanbook was "seriously deficient".

In its report on Project Eagle, the committee says there was a "failure of corporate governance" by the agency in not removing advisor Frank Cushnahan as a consultant when disclosures of interest were revealed.

The Committee also says it was "not procedurally appropriate" for the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan to meet with the successful bidder, Cerberus, the day before the closing date for the sale.

Latest: Gerry Adams: PAC report highlights need for commission of investigation

Earlier: The Public Accounts Committee is to publish its report into a major deal done by Nama today.

It focuses on the sale of its Northern Ireland loan book, known as Project Eagle.

Details will be revealed at midday.

Vincent Wall says the inquiry was set up following a report from the Comptroller and Auditor General that was released last summer:

"It basically said that Nama could have made more than €200m additional for the Irish tax payer if it had conducted the sale in a different way."

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