Nama defends McKillen loans sale

Patrick McKillen: Loans sold to rivals the Barclays.

Nama is not interested in the personalities behind loans and the decision to sell Patrick McKillen’s loans to the Barclay brothers was taken on a purely commercial basis, the agency’s CEO has claimed.

Nama CEO Brendan McDonagh was responding to questions at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in relation to a dossier containing allegations first revealed by Senator Darragh O’Brien, including that Nama had given sensitive information to bidders on the Mr McKillen’s loans.

Mr McDonagh admitted under questioning from Deputy Shane Ross that defending Mr McKillen’s lawsuit against the agency in 2011 had cost them €1.7m.

“That case has finally got through taxing, he requested €3.4m and after taxing that was adjudicated at €1.7m,” he said.

Mr McKillen won his appeal in February 2011 and in September of that year NAMA sold loans connected to Mr McKillen to his business rivals, the Barclay twins.

Mr Ross asked Mr McDonagh if the sale of the loans to Mr McKillen’s enemies was a coincidence.

“Listen, I’m not interested in the personalities, I’m interested in the business transaction of recovering for the taxpayer the maximum amount on the loan. The maximum amount I could recover was the par debt, I recovered the par debt so there was no loss to the taxpayer,” said Mr McDonagh.

While Nama has been claiming that Enda Farrell, a former Nama employee, was the origin of the dossier, there is no doubt that Mr McKillen is heavily implicated in the dossier.

Secretary general of the Department of Finance, John Moran, said that a contentious freedom of information (FoI) request — raised in the Dáil by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and referring to correspondence between Mr Moran and representatives of the Barclay brothers contained in the dossier — had come from Mr McKillen.

Mr Moran said with the passage of time the information contained in the FoI could be released. He said the decision to withhold 13 files was taken independently and was due to commercially sensitive information.

Insider dealing reports denied

Nama bosses have lashed out at accusations the €74bn property giant is dogged by insider dealing, insisting the organisation is the victim of a conspiracy of intimidation.

Giving evidence to the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee following a swirl of lurid claims, Nama CEO Brendan McDonagh denied highly sensitive information relating to developer Paddy McKillen was given to commercial rivals.

He also denied claims former portfolio manager Enda Farrell, made to the gardaí, that it deliberately undervalued loans.

Mr McDonagh insisted Nama was being targeted by “a carefully orchestrated operation” to damage it. “Presumably, if enough mud is thrown, some of it will stick. Its intended purpose is clear — to damage Nama and thereby undermine the financial institutions of the State,” he told TDs.

Nama bosses went on the attack following a wave of accusations against the agency which began with Fianna Fáil Senator Darragh O’Brien handing information to the gardaí which he said would “rock Nama to its foundations.”

Among the allegations that Nama chairman Frank Daly and Mr McDonagh responded to included that they, or people related to them, had requested information on properties.

Mr Daly denied allegations that were put to him by PAC chairman John McGuinness that he had requested information on a property in Wexford.

He said: “I certainly have no recollection of ever inquiring about a property in Wexford, and what does inquiring about a property, I mean I have people come to me and say have you properties in Cork and Dublin.”

Mr McDonagh said he had heard that it was alleged that a niece of his had bought a Nama property in Kerry.

“I don’t think it has been written but it had been mentioned to me that one of the allegations is that my niece bought a Nama property. I can assure you I have three nieces living in Kerry and none of them have bought a property,” he said.

- by Shaun Conolly and Vincent Ryan

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