Why the public must be reassured on Nama
Published 06/07/2015 | 02:30
The sale of Nama's €5.7bn Northern Ireland loan book for €1.6bn has created waves at a time when the toxic loans agency is under intense scrutiny about its write-downs and the way it conducts its business.
The discounted sale is the agency's single biggest sale to date. Now Nama stands at the periphery of serious allegations made under Dáil privilege that €9.5m in professional fees to be paid to a Belfast law firm were discovered in an Isle of Man bank account, allegedly earmarked for a leading Northern Ireland politician.
The creation in 2009 of Nama was an unprecedented response to an unprecedented financial crisis. It was given exceptional powers, including exceptional levels of confidentiality surrounding its commercial operations.
The trinity of special powers, secrecy and lack of commensurate, independent oversight is now called into question as Project Eagle and other sales processes are questioned. Authorities, north and south, must move quickly to reassure the public that the operations of Nama - a public body - are not associated with any impropriety, real or perceived.