Nama probing ex-staff’s land deal

Nama has confirmed that it is investigating the facts of a property transaction involving one of its former employees; but has said it has no initial concerns over the price paid.

The agency has not identified the former employee being investigated, nor the value of the transaction under review. However, The Sunday Times yesterday reported that one of Nama’s former property portfolio managers, Enda Farrell — who left the organisation in January — bought a two-acre property in Lucan, west Dublin for €410,000 at the end of last year.

The newspaper said Mr Farrell had made an unsolicited approach to the property’s former owner, businessman Thomas Dowd, who had originally bought the house for €1.4m in 2004.

It also claimed, something later verified by a spokesperson for Mr Farrell, that Mr Farrell didn’t inform Mr Dowd — who has a number of property-related loans already in Nama — that he was a Nama executive. The agency then, reportedly, allowed Mr Dowd sell the property in a private, off-market sale.

Yesterday’s article also claimed that numerous Lucan-based estate agents estimate that the property in question, along with its adjoining land, would have fetched a higher price in the region of between €725,000 and €750,000 if it had been sold on the open market.

However, a spokesperson for Nama said, yesterday: “Based on an initial review and on independent valuations received, Nama is satisfied that the price achieved on the transaction was in line with market levels at the time that the transaction was agreed.”

“The ex-employee was not, in any way, involved in approval of the transaction,” Nama added.

A spokesperson for Mr Farrell said yesterday there is nothing in Nama’s code of conduct restricting employees from buying a residential property, for their own use, from the agency; and added that his client believes he acted with probity at all times.

On the matter of making an unsolicited approach for the house, Mr Farrell is understood to have surmised the property was for sale as it was derelict at the time. He also claims to have checked his actions were above board, with the head of compliance at the NTMA.

Nama’s internal auditor, Deloitte, is now working with the agency to investigate “the factual position in relation to the transaction, including the level of adherence to statutory and other disclosure requirements by the ex-employee.”

The agency added that when the findings of the investigation become available, it will take “whatever action is necessary” to address issues, if any, that are identified.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil’s finance spokesperson Michael McGrath said that an instance of a senior Nama executive purchasing a property from the agency’s portfolio, in an off-market deal, should be referred to the gardaí for investigation.

He called the matter “utterly unacceptable”.


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