Belfast Telegraph

'Bad bank' faces loan value probe

The state's "bad bank" Nama is to be called before the public spending watchdog over claims that it has deliberately undervalued loans bought off banks.

The Public Accounts Committee has been told that a number of audits and reviews by officials in Ireland, Northern Ireland and in Europe have not identified any issue over valuations.

But the parliamentary body has said Nama should be given an opportunity to answer claims that it manipulated the price paid to the banks for property loans with a paper value of more than 70 billion euros.

There have also been allegations that former portfolio managers leaked out information on loan books and assets to outside companies.

It was revealed yesterday that Garda commissioner Martin Callinan has appointed a senior officer to liaise with Nama to look into complaints.

Nama was set up at the height of the financial and economic crisis in 2009 to clean up the banks by buying property loans from the main Irish lenders at a discount.

It paid about 32 billion euros for the banks' property loans as a whole, effectively making it the world's biggest property management company, but the detail on individual loans was not released publicly.

Fianna Fail Seanad leader Darragh O'Brien first raised concerns about misbehav iour at Nama earlier this week and has said he will give the Garda documents about the agency following claims of corruption and impropriety.

The Public Accounts Committee has offered to hear Nama's defence either later today or tomorrow.

PAC chairman John McGuinness said Nama wanted to explain its position.

"They are anxious and willing to come before the Public Accounts Committee having heard the concerns that have been expressed and that I have expressed," Mr McGuinness said.

"And they suggested that even if members wanted to bring them in either today or tomorrow they are willing to come."

Nama said it welcomed the opportunity to address the allegations.

A spokesman said: "We are very grateful to the chairman (John McGuinness) and to the members of the committee for affording us this opportunity to meet with them at such short notice. We consider the PAC (Public Accounts Committee) to be the most appropriate forum to address these matters."

The meeting will take place tomorrow.


From Belfast Telegraph