Project Eagle September 21, 2016Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
I’m finding this kind of fascinating. Here we have a situation where Nama sells off property loans made by banks in the North to a single company. Where, at the least there appear to have been problems in terms of how this was conducted, where some involved appear to have had conflicts of interest, where irregularities appear to have occurred, where the state itself appears to have lost millions.
And as Pat Leahy reported in the IT last week, the government in this state is caught between the C&AG and Nama as the former offers a particularly harsh critique of the latter, while the latter attempts to mount some sort of defence against the apparent issues noted above.
The problem, the big problem, as Leahy notes, is that this isn’t just about Project Eagle, disturbing as that seems to be. Nope, it is about something deeper and more fundamental:
If Nama’s integrity, probity or competence is called into question, it opens an appalling vista – that having tumbled into bankruptcy, Ireland then flogged itself for a song. Or at least for billions less than it was worth; billions subsequently heaped on the back of the Irish taxpayer. In a way, being taken for fools in the recovery would be worse than falling into the bailout in the first place.
If evidence of that is found then that is the sort of outcome that could deeply damage the government, and indeed those parties who were in government on this particular watch. Bad and all for Fianna Fáil, sure. It was established by the FF/GP coalition. But worse again surely for those who sat in government for the five successive years. And very poison in relation to ‘Project Eagle’ given that that occurred in April 2014.
This, in particular, from Leahy is very intriguing:
Even if you accept Nama’s defence of its conduct – and the State’s auditor and spending watchdog clearly does not – it seems that there was something different about how the agency conducted itself in Northern Ireland.
The question now is why. With two separate inquiries in prospect, that will be the next stage.
And he asks one other pertinent question in relation to potential conflicts of interest:
It is clear that finding a way through the forest of accounting detail in the report is really a question for experts.
But other shortcomings outlined in the report are not.
The continued involvement of Cushnahan as a member of Nama’s advisory board in Northern Ireland after he had declared he had commercial relations with businesses that owned half the entire value of the loan book, seems inexplicable. It will be one of the questions of the inquiries to come: who – if anyone – was giving Cushnahan political cover?
I wonder if one part of the answer to that is contained in an observation by Noel Whelan in the same paper?
Nama is the biggest State entity ever created.
Is that correct? I’m presuming that this is in relation to the billions on its books?
And after the weekend little is clarified. As the SBP editorial noted…
This is a bizarre episode but one which will have immense consequences. The Comptroller has been damning in his critics of NAMA; NAMA is damning of the comptroller. We have entered uncharted waters – only one of the organisation swill get back to dry land undamaged.