Friday 24 February 2017

NAMA warns of 'damaging and unfounded' media reports

Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

TOXIC debt agency NAMA has launched a blistering attack on the media, and on developers it thinks are slinging mud at the "bad bank".

In an unusually robust statement NAMA said it wanted to warn the public about "efforts to spread damaging and unfounded stories", and linked the trend to pressure it is putting on developers to repay their debts.

NAMA is feeling the heat as press reports warned that slow decision-making by NAMA could damage major jobs initiatives. NAMA has always come in for criticism from developers whose loans it holds, and from critics that question the scale and cost of the agency.

However, reports that the agency could cost the country jobs appear to have stung senior NAMA executives into launching their PR response, aware of the employment concerns of their masters in government.

The agency rejects the claims, saying it acts quickly when it can but is duty-bound to complete due diligence before it signs off on any commercial agreement.

In its statement NAMA cited a report in the 'Sunday Independent' for its latest move, but a source at the agency said it acted after a number of critical articles were published across a number of media outlets.

The report in the 'Sunday Independent' said delays by the agency could have hampered a deal to bring a €100m Google investment to Dublin.

Earlier this year, NAMA was forced to deny that it had frustrated a plan by Volkswagen Group to buy a site for a planned Audi showroom in Dublin. Volkswagen's unhappiness with the bad bank had emerged in an interview with managing director Simon Elliot in 'The Irish Times'.

Complaints

A similar complaint emerged in the High Court in Dublin yesterday when lawyers for Moritz Group, the company behind Maplewood Homes, argued that 400 jobs could be at risk because of a move by NAMA to sue the group over €306m in unpaid loans.

The agency has reacted to all such complaints by blaming NAMA borrowers. "We have seen increased efforts to spread unfounded and damaging stories about NAMA by some parties whose sole agenda seems to be to frustrate NAMA in carrying out its responsibilities," a spokesman said.

The latest broadside from the agency comes ahead of what may be its biggest test yet.

Treasury Holdings will today launch a legal challenge against NAMA's appointment of receivers over buildings worth hundreds of millions of euro.

Irish Independent

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