An extraordinary claim that NAMA has given its approval to the sale of assets under the control of the agency to its own executives in private deals must be urgently clarified by the agency, according to the Fianna Fáil Finance Spokesperson Michael McGrath.
Deputy McGrath was reacting to the claim by former NAMA executive Enda Farrell that he was given ‘informal clearance’ from NAMA’s compliance unit to purchase a property under NAMA’s control as a primary residence.
Deputy McGrath stated, “The reassurance from NAMA today that it has no record of giving clearance for the specific property purchase by former executive Mr. Farrell does not answer the central question. Mr. Farrell has claimed he was informed by the agency’s compliance unit that he could purchase a NAMA property in a private deal provided it was used as a private residence.
“It would be truly shocking if this proves to be the case, and it would reveal a deeply disturbing culture within the agency whereby executives have the inside track on purchasing assets under the agency’s control. NAMA must immediately clarify its policy on agency executives purchasing property under the agency’s control by way of private deals.
“This troubling affair also raises the question as to whether NAMA actually knows the true identity of those buying the properties from it. We have been assured for example that NAMA will not sell assets back to NAMA debtors at knock-down prices, but how can we be so sure if they were unable to discover that one of their own executives was the purchaser in this case?
“I have brought the issue of NAMA selling assets in private deals to the attention of the Minister for Finance in the Dáil but he has defended the practice. The government has also rejected a Fianna Fáil bill in the Seanad which would have required all sales of NAMA assets to be publicly advertised.
“With properties under its control underpinning loans of €74 billion, NAMA has a critical role to play in Ireland’s economic recovery. It is absolutely essential that the general public can have trust and confidence that the agency is going about its work without fear or favour. The sale of a NAMA-controlled property to one of its own senior executives raises fundamental questions for the agency.
“I repeat my call for this particular case to be referred to the Gardai for investigation and also for an independent person appointed by the Minister for Finance to investigate the failure of the agency’s compliance procedures in this case and their overall effectiveness.”