NAMA critical of NI finance committee report on Project Eagle saleFriday 11 March 2016 22.28
The National Asset Management Agency has criticised the Northern Ireland Assembly Finance Committee's report on the sale of NAMA's NI loan portfolio, known as Project Eagle.
In a letter addressed to the NI finance committee, NAMA Chairman Frank Daly was critical that no effort was made to contact his agency ahead of the publication of the report earlier this week.
In 2014 a US Investment company, Cerberus Capital Management, bought the NAMA portfolio of Northern Ireland-based debtors.
It had a book value of £4.5bn. The purchase price was not disclosed but NAMA said at the time it was the biggest single transaction in the agency's history.
In his letter, Mr Daly said the NI finance committee contradicts itself in the report when it states it was dissatisfied by NAMA's decision not to appear before it to give evidence.
He said: "It has always been NAMA's position that we are accountable to the Oireachtas" and that the NI committee itself acknowledges this in its report.
Mr Daly added that NAMA had been fully cooperative with the NI committee following the sale, including providing transcripts of NAMA's appearance before the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee, and giving "detailed and prompt responses in writing to the 105 questions that the Committee put to it".
Furthermore, the NAMA chairman also takes issue with point that the NI finance committee stated NAMA should have suspended the sales process for the Project Eagle loan portfolio.
He said there had been little interest from investors in the loan portfolio and the NAMA board "took the view that a loan sale would eliminate the risks, uncertainties and costs associated with a protracted workout of the portfolio".
Mr Daly added that "if the Project Eagle portfolio had not achieved NAMA's required reserve price, NAMA would not have proceeded with the sale".
He also highlighted that any delay in the sale could have adversely affected the economies on both sides of the border.
The final aspect of the NI finance committee's report that NAMA took issue with was in relation to comments in it attributed to former NAMA Northern Ireland Advisory Committee member Brian Rowntree.
The report claimed Mr Rowntree said external members of the NIAC had access to confidential information on Project Eagle.
Mr Daly rejected this claim by citing multiple media reports in which Mr Rowntree denied he had access to any confidential information.
However, the NAMA Chairman did say he shared the NI committee's concerns about alleged events surrounding the sale of the loan portfolio.
Noonan must answer questions on NI NAMA sale - McDonald
Earlier, Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald called on Minister for Finance Michael Noonan to come before the Dáil when it sits on 22 March to answer questions about the sale of the Project Eagle loans.
She was speaking alongside Chairperson of the NI finance committee Daithí McKay, following the publication of the Assembly's inquiry report on the sale of NAMA's northern loan book.
Ms McDonald claimed NAMA has "sung dumb" on the report and its chairman Frank Daly also has questions to answer.
Asked what questions Minister Noonan has to answer, she said that he should explain why he allowed the sales process to continue when he knew it had been corrupted.
She also said he must address why he allowed the sales process to continue when the Northern Ireland executive had difficulties around the first bidder.