NAMA and Project Eagle : “The Alarm bells could not have been louder”

September 15, 2016

We are deeply concerned by the findings of the Comptroller and Audior General’s report into NAMA’s sale of Project Eagle which showed that the State missed out on £190 million (€222.7m) in revenue.

It is also highly critical of NAMA’s handling of the sale and apparent conflict of interests with regards to Frank Cushnahan – the then Chairman of NAMA’s Northern Irish Advisory Committee.

This report is hugely damning of NAMA.

The Social Democrats believe a Commission of Investigation alongside a criminal investigation must get underway as soon as possible.

“The Government cannot hide behind the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report and a fully scoped out Commission of Investigation is required – this should not be investigated via the Public Accounts Committee. We need the Department of Finance to release all documentation with regards Project Eagle if this investigation is to get to the bottom of this matter,” said Róisín Shortall TD.

She added: “The report acknowledges that in March, 2014 NAMA learned of ‘success fee arrangements’ which existed with regards to Project Eagle. This information was provided by PIMCO. Minister Noonan told the Dáil, as recently as last June, that he had monthly meetings with NAMA. Was he aware of the serious concerns of wrong-doing flagged by PIMCO and if so why did he not shout ‘Stop’? Surely if he knew of such concerns he should have called a halt to the sale until this was investigated. The alarm bells couldn’t have been louder.”

The report found that NAMA planned to dispose of the properties (held in Northern Ireland) over the medium to long term. So why did Minister Noonan push for the Agency to complete its work much earlier than scheduled?

It is one of so many questions that needs to be answered.

We believe there should no delay is establishing the Commission of Investigation.

The lessons learned from the establishment of the Cregan Commission into the Irish Bank and Resolution Corporation should inform the structure and scope of this investigation.

We are also very much concerned that some members of the Public Accounts Committee were allegedly contacted by NAMA in recent days and offered a ‘briefing’ ahead of the publication of today’s report.

“Minister Noonan was aware of the findings of today’s report for a number of weeks, why the delay in calling for an investigation? It is galling to discover that while the Irish people were forced into propping up the banks over €200 million in revenue was missed by NAMA,” said Róisín Shortall T.D.

She added: “It’s yet another troubling episode involving public finances and the inevitable debate over what form the investigation will take will add to public frustration. This is exactly why we have repeatedly called for the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Agency.”