Project Eagle probe to focus on Michael Noonan’s role in sell-off

Project Eagle is facing an inquiry on whether the right strategy was used by Nama to sell the portfolio and if the finance minister acted correctly.

Project Eagle probe to focus on Michael Noonan’s role in sell-off

The Government’s agreement to investigate Nama’s largest sale of property assets will pile pressure on Finance Minister Michael Noonan, who recently said there were insufficient grounds for a probe.

An interim report on the new commission of investigation will be provided in three months while the judge overseeing it — yet to be decided — will have a year to complete the work.

Terms for the inquiry — yet to be agreed by the Dáil — include whether the disposal of the Northern Ireland property portfolio was the right strategy and if the €1.6bn price was correct.

The commission will examine if the management of the sales process by Nama was appropriate and demonstrated “best corporate governance”.

It will examine if any conflicts of interests relating to Nama’s Northern Ireland Advisory Board were managed properly. A central issue will be when and how Nama became aware of a fees structure to a former member of that board by bidders and whether it addressed the matter.

A key issue for the judge will be to decide if “decisions and actions” of Mr Noonan relating to Project Eagle, including communications with politicians in the North and meetings with potential bidders, were “appropriate” in the circumstances.

The decision to go ahead with the probe comes on the back of a public accounts committee report which raised questions about why Mr Noonan met with US vulture fund Cerberus over the project just 24 hours before the sale in March 2014.

PAC concluded the meeting was “not procedurally appropriate”.

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