Majority of top developers have transferred assets

THE “majority” of the top 30 property developers in NAMA have transferred property to the names of their wives, partners or other family members, the agency has confirmed.

But just three developers have so far been forced to reverse the transfer — a widespread practice aimed at putting assets, including luxury homes, helicopters and large tracts of land out of reach of the agency.

A NAMA spokesman said it has identified a number of cases where it “disagrees” with transfers to spouses and will seek to reverse them, firstly through discussions with developers but through the courts if necessary.

The agency yesterday said it was “acutely sensitive to the risk that developers have tried — or will try — to transfer assets from their own names to spouses or other family members in order to remove them from the scope of NAMA”.

A spokesman would not reveal the names of the three developers who had so far reversed transfers to their wives but said in one case, €60 million in assets were put in the name of a spouse, in another case €50m and in another, €20m.

Fine Gael wants more widespread use of law to stop land and property being put in the names of developers’ wives.

The NAMA Act provides that the agency may apply to a court to declare a transfer to be void if it can show the effect of it was to impair the value of an eligible bankasset. “The powers are there, it’s a matter of using them,” said party deputy finance spokesman, Brian Hayes.

On Monday night, RTÉ’s Prime Time programme showed developers living luxurious lifestyles despite their bad loans being taken on by the taxpayer through NAMA. “I think most people would find it astonishing that after two years of NAMA we are having this debate,” said Mr Hayes.

Labour’s Joan Burton said NAMA was giving “kid glove” treatment to developers.

“Developers have been able to keep one step ahead of NAMA through the systematic transfer of valuable property to spouses.”

Meanwhile, a High Court judge yesterday made formal orders overturning the transfer by former Anglo Irish Bank chief executive David Drumm of his half share of his former family home at Malahide, Co Dublin, into the sole ownership of his wife.

In proceedings against Mr Drumm and his wife Lorraine, Anglo had sought to overturn the 2009 transfer of ownership of the property at Malahide, arguing it was a fraud on creditors.

Anglo wants to recover €8m from Mr Drumm in its action while he is counterclaiming for €2.6m in salary, pension, deferred bonuses and damages.

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