Mick Wallace calls on Finance Minister to investigate 'illegal' €26 million Nama deal

Mick Wallace calls on Finance Minister to investigate 'illegal' €26 million Nama deal
Independents4Change TD Mick Wallace

The sale of a portfolio of properties by Nama for €26 million was “illegal” and in breach of its own statutory act, the Dáil has heard.

During questions to Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, Independents4Change TD Mick Wallace called on the minister to investigate the sale of 'Project Nantes', which he said involved an interested party of a Nama debtor, in contravention of Nama's rules.

Speaking under privilege, Mr Wallace said the company Avestus took over Quinlan Private in 2010.

"The three principal directors, Olan Cremin, Thomas Dowd and Peter Donnelly, had borrowed heavily during the boom, mainly from Anglo Irish Bank, and owed €489m when the crash came,” he said.

The €489m went across to NAMA and NAMA assembled a portfolio with €352m of this debt, naming it Project Nantes. The three boys went off to America to find someone to put up the money and found a company called Clairvue. They then set up a shell company in Luxembourg called Clairvue Nantes and installed another director of Avestus, Mark Donnelly, as a director of the Luxembourg company. He had been a director of Avestus since 2010 and became a director of Clairvue in 2012,” he said.

“The company bought Project Nantes for €26.6m, with a discount bringing the price to under 10% of the original value. This sale is in breach of the NAMA Act for multiple reasons. It was off-market, at a knock-down price and, worst of all, the purchaser was connected to the debtor which is illegal under section 172 of the NAMA Act,” he concluded.

“I have great respect for the work of the Comptroller and Auditor General, as I do for the Minister but I still believe the Minister should get involved,” Mr Wallace said.

In response, Mr Donohoe said it is now accepted that politicians should not be involved in inquiries into organisations as vast and significant as NAMA and nor should we be involved in their day-to-day operations because of the pressure we could come under.

We have to allow due process to take place and an independent body like the Comptroller and Auditor General to do its work. NAMA has provided information to me and I have put it on the record of the Dáil. I have to respect the independence of the Comptroller and Auditor General,” he said.

“The Deputy has named individuals and has given his view on them but I have to ensure due process is followed. This is work that is under way in the office of the Comptroller and Auditor General and it would be utterly inappropriate for me to reach a view on this matter until that work is concluded,” he said.

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