Questions for Noonan in latest Nama scandal - Adams
Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has called for the establishment a Commission of Investigation into the management and operation of NAMA.
Mr Adams also asked what steps were taken by Minister Finance Michael Noonan to ensure the integrity of the process around the sale of NAMA’s Northern portfolio, given concerns were raised directly with him.
Raising the issue in the Dáil with Minister Richard Bruton who was standing in for the Taoiseach, Gerry Adams said:
“I have previously raised widespread public concern around the operation of the National Assets Management Agency (NAMA). Billions of euros worth of public assets are being sold off by NAMA to vulture capitalists behind closed doors and without any democratic oversight.
“NAMA has been ordered by the Government to wind up faster than its 2020 remit, raising concerns about a firesale of assets. Sinn Féin has little confidence that the government is protecting the public interest.
“Minister Noonan was aware of concerns at the sale of NAMA’s Northern portfolio before it even happened, because they were raised with him here by Pearse Doherty TD.
“Last week, allegations by Mick Wallace TD suggest insider trading and political cronyism in that sale. These loans had a value of £4.5 billion but NAMA allegedly sold them to US vulture capital firm Cerberus for just £1.3 billion in April 2014.
“Another US firm, Pimco, withdrew from the sale process in March last year after it brought to Nama's attention an attempt by former Nama adviser Frank Cushnahan to solicit payments.
“Minister, did NAMA report concerns about Pimco's withdrawal and the reasons for it to Minister Noonan? What steps were taken by the Minister or NAMA to ensure the integrity of the sale process was upheld?
“Just three weeks after the withdrawal of Pimco, how did the Cerberus deal proceed considering the involvement of many of the same actors which had previously raised such serious concerns?
“Will you accept that this latest scandal demands the establishment a Commission of Investigation into the management and operation of NAMA?
“A condition of the sale process, following the withdrawal of Pimco, was that no former director could receive payment as a result of NAMA transactions. But we know that the law firm involved in the Cereberus deal had £7 million lodged in an offshore account. That is an awful lot of public money. It is alleged that this money was set aside for non-lawyers involved in fixing the deal.
“When Pimco alerted NAMA that an unsolicited approach was made to them, why did NAMA not suspend the bidding process which was clearly compromised? Was Minister Noonan made aware of this development?”
Responding to Richard Bruton’s rejection of the need for a Commission of Investigation Mr Adams said:
“You say you don’t accept there should be Commission of Investigation. I wrote to Minister Noonan about this issue and he has said nothing. The Government cannot remain silent on an issue which has seen a massive loss to citizens.
“The Government is proposing to parcel up NAMA’s remaining portfolio to be disposed of in one sale. I understand Cereberus is the leading bidder.
“In the same week this scandal emerged, the Government introduced legislation to cut payments to lone parents, to pickpocket citizen’s income to pay your Water Charges, and increased the six-figure pensions of former taoisigh and Ministers. Minister, surely that type of zeal needs to be seen when dealing with issues of corruption and graft that are causing so much anger to citizens.”