Monday 23 April 2018

O'Flynn: 'Nama has accused me of perjury'

Now the Banking Inquiry is caught up in a major row between Michael O'Flynn and Nama, writes Ronald Quinlan

Wants to go back before the inquiry: Michael O’Flynn is considering legal action following the Banking Inquiry’s refusal to recall him as a witness.
Wants to go back before the inquiry: Michael O’Flynn is considering legal action following the Banking Inquiry’s refusal to recall him as a witness.
Rejection: Ciaran Lynch turned down a request from Michael O’Flynn to be recalled by the Banking Inquiry
Michelle Mulherin: Both Nama and Mr O’Flynn should be brought back in
Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

Developer Michael O'Flynn is considering taking legal action following a refusal by the Banking Inquiry to recall him as a witness, the Sunday Independent can reveal.

Mr O'Flynn wrote to the inquiry's chairman Ciaran Lynch last Monday with a request to go back before the inquiry "at the earliest possible opportunity" to "confirm the truthfulness" of his evidence after elements of it were disputed by Nama.

In his letter, a copy of which has been seen by this newspaper, the Cork-based developer said Nama had "effectively" accused him of having committed "perjury before the inquiry" by issuing a statement to the media contradicting claims he had made in relation to his dealings with the agency.

Mr O'Flynn wrote: "In a statement to at least two Sunday newspapers, Nama alleged that my evidence is untrue and effectively have accused me of perjury before the inquiry in relation to certain aspects of my evidence. I can assure the committee that contrary to Nama's allegations in the media, my evidence is truthful.

"I trust you would agree that parties who are witnesses before the inquiry should not contradict sworn evidence of other witnesses in the media and if they have an issue with evidence given by another witness the appropriate forum to deal with that should be before the inquiry," he added.

Arguably the most contentious element of Nama's statement - a copy of which was issued to the Sunday Independent - was its denial of a claim made by Mr O'Flynn that he had been subjected by Nama to "very significant pressure" to sell a London property to a specific buyer in the face of a higher offer from another bidder.

Responding to that claim, Nama 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: "In relation to the London property, what Mr O'Flynn outlined in his submission to the Banking Inquiry was confirmed under sworn evidence. 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."

Mr O'Flynn's request that the Banking Inquiry take up the matter of his evidence and Nama's disputing of it was flatly rejected by the inquiry's chairman in a letter he sent to the developer last Tuesday.

Mr Lynch wrote: "As per the Memorandum of Procedures, the Joint Committee will not, unless there are wholly exceptional circumstances, entertain a request from any witness to be recalled to give further oral evidence in order to elaborate or explain, alter or reject any of their previously given evidence."

The Inquiry chairman added: "Without making any comment on the matters at hand, the Joint Committee can confirm that it will not make any decision on the truthfulness or otherwise of any witness's evidence before the completion of its report."

He advised Mr O'Flynn that anyone "affected by a proposed finding or recommendation" of the inquiry would be given an opportunity to comment before the publication of its report.

But while the Banking Inquiry chairman might have expected his involvement in the matter to have ended there, Mr O'Flynn took grave exception to several of the suggestions contained in his response.

In a letter to Mr Lynch the following day, he wrote: "Contrary to what is suggested in your letter, I was not seeking to 'elaborate or explain, alter or reject' any of my previously given evidence. On the contrary, I was requesting an opportunity to deal with 'wholly exceptional circumstances' where, following the delivery of my sworn evidence, representatives of a public authority, themselves witnesses to the inquiry, publicly alleged that I perjured myself."

Commenting on the impact of the allegation, he added: "The consequence of the comments made by Nama representatives is that my character and good name have been called into question."

Addressing the Banking Inquiry's responsibility to deal with the matter, Mr O'Flynn said: "I respectfully submit that this undoubtedly qualifies as 'injury, damage or loss' on a witness 'in consequence of the giving of the evidence by any such witness' which is specifically contemplated by Section 133 of the [Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) 2013 Act].

"In such circumstances I would have thought it appropriate that I would at least be afforded an opportunity by the inquiry to verify the evidence called into question by public statements by parties who are themselves witnesses before the inquiry."

Referring to the Banking Inquiry's own Memorandum of Procedures, Mr O'Flynn asked Mr Lynch to "elaborate on the procedures applicable to commenting by witnesses outside of the inquiry on the sworn evidence of other witnesses".

Last night, Fine Gael TD Michelle Mulherin voiced her concern in relation to the matter, saying: "It strikes me as outrageous that Michael O'Flynn can go before the Banking Inquiry and give evidence under oath, which he states he can substantiate and that Nama can simply seek to rubbish it through the media.

"Both they [Nama] and Mr O'Flynn should be brought back in before the inquiry for further questioning on this issue. Let Mr O'Flynn present the evidence to support his allegations. Otherwise this state of affairs will undermine the inquiry."

Sunday Independent

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