Belfast Telegraph

Irish minister has 'no intention' of suspending Nama ahead of report into offloading of Northern Ireland loans

Backing Nama: Paschal Donohoe
Backing Nama: Paschal Donohoe

By Gordon Deegan

The Irish finance minister, Paschal Donohoe, has emphatically ruled out suspending the work of Nama pending the final report of an investigation into the sale of its Northern Ireland loan portfolio.

In June 2017 the Irish Government appointed retired judge John Cooke to investigate Nama's £1.24bn sale in 2014 of the portfolio to US distressed-debt firm Cerberus.

Mick Wallace TD alleged in the Dail that £7m in fees related to the transaction had been lodged in a bank account in the Isle of Man and that it was "reportedly earmarked for a Northern Ireland politician or party" following the transaction.

New York-based Cerberus has denied any connection to any wrongdoing while Nama has said the allegations relate to the buy-side of the transaction.

In response to Mr Wallace asking Mr Donohoe to consider suspending the work of Nama immediately until publication of the final report, the minister said: "It is important to note that in no way has the integrity of Nama or the Nama board, or the integrity of its decisions, been brought into question in relation to the disposal of Project Eagle.

"I therefore have no intention of directing Nama to halt its activities.

"To do so would irreparably damage Nama's positive contribution to our recovery and damage our reputation as a credible, open and transparent market."

Mr Donohoe said that the Cooke Commission's final report was scheduled to be published by the end of June.

He said that neither the commission's terms of reference, nor its interim report, call for a suspension of Nama's activities.

Mr Donohoe added that any interference in the work of Nama "would be detrimental to the interests of Irish taxpayers".

He said: "The decision of the Oireachtas in 2009 to allow Nama to carry out its functions in an independent manner has been vindicated by its strong performance since inception."

He said in October 2017 Nama eliminated Irish taxpayers' contingent liability of €30bn (£26bn), which arose from the senior debt issued in order to acquire bank loan portfolios.

He added that "Nama also expects to redeem its subordinated debt by March 2020 and to produce a surplus - currently estimated at €3.5bn (£3bn) - by the time it completes its work subject to continued positive market performance".

Belfast Telegraph


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