Business Irish

Friday 15 December 2017

Comment: The flip side of being on the wrong side of NAMA can be painful

Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

NAMA basically divides its debtors into two camps. The consequences of being in the wrong one can be dire.

Not that it is anything personal.

Being on the right side of the agency means confessing to and reversing any past sins like attempts to salt away cash or property, turning over rents and other income to the agency, and even giving it the right to slap a mortgage on otherwise debt-free family homes.

Once those ground rules are met, NAMA sees its priority as getting back what it paid for the developer's debts first and foremost, not trying to chase down every penny of a 2007-era loan.

For one-time billionaires and millionaires, handing back wealth and handing over control of once huge businesses to bureaucrats and bean counters might be a bitter pill. But developers who opt to co-operate today get the prospect of a debt-free tomorrow, and backing from one of the most powerful property firms on earth.

The upside of being on the right side of NAMA can be enormous. The likes of Sean Mulryan and Michael O'Flynn, who worked with the agency through the downturn, have kept their businesses intact.

On the flip side, where Harry Crosbie now finds himself, are those the agency classes as "unco-operative".

That's the one in three debtors NAMA suspects may have hidden away assets, misdirected income or otherwise bilked taxpayers.

In cases involving 'uncooperative' developers, NAMA has paid private investigators to hunt down yachts and properties abroad.

The agency has instigated receiverships and liquidations to seize properties. It also goes after personal judgments, which, if unpaid, can be the first step to bankruptcy. Even if that doesn't happen, the high profile and public records of unpaid debt can be hugely damaging to any future effort to get back into business.

Irish Independent

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