The National Asset Management Agency has sold almost €800m of loans in private deals, or off market transactions, instead of selling them in the open market since January 2014. 

A further €400m of loans were also sold privately to State bodies, for social housing or were subject to compulsory purchase orders. 

The new figures were revealed in a Dáil reply to Fianna Fáil's finance spokesman Michael McGrath by Minister for Finance Michael Noonan.  

In his answer, Minister Noonan revealed that prior to 2014 NAMA did not keep a record of the sales which it conducted privately. 

Since January, 2014 there were 240 exemptions to NAMA's open marketing policy and the total value of the transactions is €1.2 billion - less than 6% of its total sales.

NAMA said "data are currently being compiled for the 2010-2013 period" and that "disposal of assets prior to 2014 was limited, which meant there were fewer exceptions to the open marketing policy in that period".

Mr Noonan said derogations are dependent on achieving the current market value as determined by independent valuations.  

The exemptions were granted where an open sale was not pursued for "commercial or legal reasons" in relation to €800m of loans.  

Michael McGrath said in private deals that "it is impossible to know definitively whether the best possible price has been achieved for the State."

"When sales are non-competitive in nature, NAMA is relying on market valuations to satisfy itself that value has been achieved. Valuations are, by their very nature, subjective and do not always reflect the price achieved in the market," Mr McGrath added.

"When sales are non-competitive in nature, NAMA is relying on market valuations to satisfy itself that value has been achieved. Valuations are, by their very nature, subjective and do not always reflect the price achieved in the market," Mr McGrath added.

A spokesperson for NAMA said private transactions can be carried out for a number of reasons, including where the agency has received specific written advice that open marketing should not be pursued for commercial or legal reasons.

In addition, the agency said such deals would be conducted where State bodies are acquiring property assets in the public interest, and also where residential properties are sold for social housing - in all cases independent market valuations would be sought by NAMA.

In other instances, a property might be sold as part of a private transaction where the full PAR debt is repaid to NAMA.

NAMA said the statutory objective to get the best achievable financial return takes precedence over the policy of open marketing.