Finance Minister Michael Noonan said there was a lot of confidence in the investigation to be conducted by a judge into the auction of the Project Eagle loans by Nama.
He was speaking at a press briefing with Nama chairman Frank Daly and chief executive Brendan McDonagh at the launch of the agency’s annual report.
The enquiry into the 2014 sale by Nama of loans mostly secured on properties in the North was announced by Taoiseach Enda Kenny late last year and its terms of reference agreed earlier this year.
It followed a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) which said the sale had led to losses to the taxpayer.
In the North, the sale is being investigated by the UK’s National Crime Agency.
Asked when the enquiry would report, Mr Noonan said the process of the investigation would be entirely in the hands of the judge.
Mr Daly said it was important to note that the terms of the enquiry included a reference that the enquiry would draw on appropriate expertise. It was important to say that there was no suggestion of wrongdoing in the C&AG report, he said. Asked whether Nama regretted aspects of the sale, Mr Daly said the agency had gone through months of engagement with Public Accounts Committee on the matter.
Nama will have “a momentous” 2017 when the agency pays down all of its €30.2bn in senior debt, three years ahead of an original schedule, Mr Daly said. It increased its forecast for a surplus of €3bn when the agency is wound down. He said the Nama board’s policy of reducing the contingent liabilities on the State was the right decision. Selling assets when the opportunities arose over three years ago was “wise”, he said.
Nama had helped fund the building of almost 5,000 new homes since 2014, and over 3,100 homes were either under construction or have planning approved.
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