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Thursday 8 December 2016

O'Flynn launches scathing attack on Nama at Banking Inquiry

Clodagh Sheehy

Published 23/07/2015 | 02:30

Michael O'Flynn
Michael O'Flynn

Property developer Michael O'Flynn has launched a scathing attack on Nama, claiming it hampered a return to growth in Ireland.

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Mr O'Flynn said the board of Nama lacked experience in many important areas and had failed to distinguish between professional developers with a solid business model and amateur developers who did not.

He told the Banking Inquiry he believed "the establishment of Nama and the way in which it operates has actually delayed and hampered the return to economic growth in Ireland".

He did not believe the banking crisis was caused by professional developers and took particular issue with comments by Nama's Frank Daly to the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform that he would like to be able to walk away from the developers and get someone else to run the businesses.

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"I believe that it is inexcusable that comments evidencing such gross and general prejudice against developers should be made by the Chairman of a public authority vested with powers which effectively permitted them to adjudicate upon those same developers," he said.

Mr Flynn felt it was a mistake to take all of the loans of the O'Flynn group into Nama.

"Given time, we would have worked through our loan portfolio, which would have resulted in a much better outcome for the O'Flynn Group itself, for the Irish taxpayer, for the Irish banks and the economy in general," he said, adding that his personal loans had been repaid in full.

"The loans of the O'Flynn Group were sold for a sum undisclosed to me, but reported to be in the region of €1.1bn.

"In addition to this, the O'Flynn Group had rental income of approximately €300m whilst in Nama. I wish to put on the public record that I have at no stage sought to put any assets beyond the reach of Nama or any other creditor.

"Despite cooperating fully, overall I believe that the O'Flynn Group was treated very badly by Nama," he added.

He was hugely appreciative to the State for stepping in, but stressed it was easy in the current climate to forget the €50bn contribution by the property sector to the Irish exchequer between 2000 and 2007.

Earlier, developer Sean Mulryan insisted that his close personal friendship with former Taoiseach Brian Cowen and former Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy had not benefitted his business. The founder of Ballymore Homes said he had a close friendship with both men through football and horse racing for more than 20 years.

Mr Mulryan said he paid a huge price for the financial crash, but he was paying back his debt. He told Senator Susan O'Keeffe that most of his property business was outside Ireland and he did not see how he could be helped by the friendship, nor had he availed of property tax incentives here.

Mr Mulryan described how during the financial boom there was "too much money chasing a small number of trophy sites".

"There was a lot of madness in the system," he added, saying that at the time London sites were five times cheaper. Land here was "overpriced by enormous amounts".

Mr Mulryan said his company had spotted the huge oversupply of houses here from early on through their own research and through comparisons with Britain. In the early 1990s they had spread their risk by buying property in London.

When the crash came 85pc of their assets were in London, but 90pc of their loans were with Irish banks. In hindsight they should have spread their loans to other banks, but they had no issues with the Irish banks going back 20 years.

He felt he and his executive were victims of the crash, taking pay cuts, giving up holidays and working seven days a week for the past seven years.

Irish Independent

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