Wednesday 22 May 2019

Nama furious at O'Flynn evidence

State agency challenges developer's testimony

A furious row has erupted between developer Michael O'Flynn and Nama following his appearance before the Banking Inquiry
A furious row has erupted between developer Michael O'Flynn and Nama following his appearance before the Banking Inquiry
Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

A furious row has erupted between developer Michael O'Flynn and Nama following his appearance before the Banking Inquiry.

In evidence and in written submissions to the inquiry, Mr O'Flynn alleged that he and his colleagues had been subjected by Nama to "very significant pressure" to sell a property in London to a specific buyer in the face of a higher offer from another bidder.

Responding to that claim, a Nama spokesman said: "Mr O'Flynn's contention is untrue. The property was openly marketed through a property agent appointed by Mr O'Flynn. Mr O'Flynn formally recommended to Nama that the property be sold to the highest bidder to emerge from that open market sales process on the agent's guidance that the price achieved set a 'new record yield'. Mr O'Flynn subsequently recommended the sale of the property to another third party who had not participated in that open market sales process. The sale of the property did not proceed."

A spokesman for Mr O'Flynn said: "The fact is the O'Flynn Group had an offer on the property and agreed it with Nama. A higher offer of Stg£1.5m then emerged and was presented to Nama but they directed the O'Flynn Group to proceed with the lower offer. The O'Flynn Group refused to do this. Detailed correspondence is available to back this up. Ultimately the sale did not proceed as it was overtaken by the overall sale of the O'Flynn Group loans. What Nama is suggesting on this matter is totally untrue."

While Nama told the Sunday Independent Mr O'Flynn was free to discuss his and the O'Flynn Group's engagement with Nama, the agency was constrained by law from discussing its engagement with him and from putting its position on the record. Nama said it was fully satisfied it had dealt with Mr O'Flynn and the O'Flynn Group objectively, commercially and professionally at all times.

In his submission, Mr O'Flynn also claimed a Nama official had accused the O'Flynn Group of having engaged in "criminal-like activity" in the past and said that it was "Nama's role to bring an end to that". Mr O'Flynn said he had made a formal complaint to Nama about this but had never received an apology from the agency or the official in question.

Mr O'Flynn claimed developers whose loans are in Nama "are prevented from speaking frankly of their experiences in Nama and that the only remedy they could seek is a judicial review." Where this course of action is pursued however, Mr O'Flynn said it "is certain to be regarded by Nama as uncooperative, and therefore, in real terms, would be the end of that borrower in Nama".

Nama's spokesman said: "Mr O'Flynn expressed personal views on aspects of Nama's strategic approach and operations and presented his views as being self-evident. Nama strongly disagrees with Mr O'Flynn's views."

Mr O'Flynn said while the O'Flynn Group had formulated a business plan for Nama aimed at repaying all the money it owed, this had been rejected without any discussion in relation to its content.

A spokesman for Nama denied this, saying: "Mr O'Flynn's contention that his business plan was dismissed without consideration is untrue. The relevant Nama team and the Nama board gave very thorough and comprehensive consideration to Mr O'Flynn's business plan but did not consider that it represented the best option to maximise the return to Irish taxpayers."

Mr O'Flynn's spokesman said: "Mr O'Flynn was very clear in his sworn evidence to the Banking Inquiry that his business plan was rejected without any meaningful engagement and that had Nama accepted it, the result for the taxpayer would have been significantly better. Any view to the contrary from Nama is totally untrue."

Sunday Independent

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