Saturday 3 December 2016

The public deserves Nama transparency

Published 10/07/2015 | 02:30

Frank Daly, chairman of NAMA, outside Leinster House after giving evidence to the Dail Public Accounts Committee. Picture: Frank McGrath
Frank Daly, chairman of NAMA, outside Leinster House after giving evidence to the Dail Public Accounts Committee. Picture: Frank McGrath

They say that the best disinfectant of all is sunlight. The more it shines, the less chance there is for suspicion. It's also a natural guarantee of transparency. That is why it is so much to be regretted that secrecy appears to be part of the DNA of many of our institutions.

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But when billions in taxpayers' money are concerned it is imperative that there is complete openness and clarity. Currently, the Public Accounts Committee is looking at claims that almost €10m in an offshore account was intended as a payment to a politician in the North, in connection with the purchase of NAMA's Northern Ireland loan portfolio. Nama sold €5.7bn worth of property loans in the North for €1.6bn. This was a discount of 72pc. US investment fund Cerberus bought it after an auction dubbed Project Eagle in 2014. Irish taxpayers have good reason to ask was this good value - after all, it is they who have taken the hit.

Nama's chairman Frank Daly, commenting on the sale at the PAC yesterday, said that no pressure from any source, political or otherwise, influenced his organisation in regard to the decision to sell the loans. He also said that the process yielded the best outcome for the taxpayer. Perhaps. But the public has no way of ascertaining this.

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