independent

Monday 21 April 2014

NAMA's 'slipshod' €109m judgment bid criticised by judge

Judge Kelly: 'expected better'

A JUDGE has criticised NAMA over "slipshod" handling of its bid to secure €109m summary judgment orders against a hotelier and his wife over unpaid loans and guarantees.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly said he would have expected better of such a "well-resourced" body such as NAMA, which has "unprecedented" powers, in dealing with the case of Galway businessman Michael Finn and his wife Claire.

The judge made the comments when the Commercial Court heard NAMA's application for judgment against the couple is to go to a full hearing.

His concerns included that a "most alarming" certificate, issued under Section 108 of the NAMA Act 2009, purporting to show the couple's loans with AIB were transferred to NAMA, included a blank schedule of assets transferred.

In the judge's view, that certificate, and another certificate relating to the couple's loans with AIB "certifies nothing".

The certificate relating to the AIB loans contained a blank schedule to which was stapled a document with a series of names and numbers, he said.

Given NAMA's "paucity of evidence" to show it had in 2010 taken over the AIB and Anglo loans to the couple, the judge said it was not surprising the agency had decided to withdraw its application for summary judgment against the couple and consent to the matter going to a full hearing.

Had it not done so, he would have refused summary judgment.

He said he would not grant an application by Ben O Fhloinn, for Mr Finn, to dismiss the agency's claim.

The Finns had not argued the loans were not transferred but rather argued there was a "huge gap" in its evidence in that regard which remained unexplained.

NAMA may be able to address the shortcomings, he added.

Mr O Fhloinn had argued, despite having powers that would "make a government blush", NAMA had failed to show it had legally taken over the loans in 2010.

Dermot Cahill, for Mrs Finn, who had also argued there was no evidence to support NAMA's claim to have taken over the loans, consented to the matter going to a full hearing.

LIABILITIES

Arising from NAMA's handing of the summary judgment application, the judge directed it to pay costs of that application to the Finns.

The judge directed the matter to come back before the court in December for mention.

NAMA previously alleged the couple had invested €600,000 in companies operating a high-end car resale business and transferred shares in their family home to their children rather than using funds to reduce their significant liabilities.

Irish Independent

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