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Golf course boss's $2.1m claim has no basis, says NAMA

The boss of an exclusive golf course development in the US has no reasonable grounds to progress a $2.1m claim against the National Asset Management Agency, the State's toxic bank has insisted.

In court documents filed a few days ago, NAMA claims that James Vanden Berg, who was hired to run the Georgia Golf Club in 2001 by Barber Creek Land, has no basis for trying to make the agency liable for an "unenforceably vague employment agreement".

Former tax inspector turned financier Derek Quinlan was a significant shareholder in Barber Creek Land.

Mr Vanden Berg has claimed he is entitled to bonuses of $2.1m (€1.6m) relating to his management of the development. He said that while $88m in loans attached to the complex were transferred to NAMA in 2009, he continued to manage the development and met bonus-related targets.

Nama had taken a "stubborn and litigious" approach, he previously claimed in court documents, prompting him to take legal action to claim payment of the bonuses.


But lawyers for NAMA said Mr Vanden Berg's claim, which he says is based on a 2004 contract with Barber Creek, is without any sound basis. "The unenforceably vague employment agreement purports to set forth, among other things, plaintiff's salary, discretionary bonus and other benefits," the agency said.

It adds that Mr Vanden Berg has sued NAMA "for allegedly breaching the terms of a vague and unenforceable employment contract -- an agreement to which NAMA was not even a party".

The bad bank stated: "NAMA denies it has any liability for any of the plaintiff's alleged damages."

Mr Vanden Berg said he was being paid a $276,000 annual salary as well as a $500 per month contribution to car costs.

He claimed he was due "at least" $240,000 per year in bonuses since 2004. He has maintained Nama was eventually the beneficial owner of the golf club and that his claim is enforceable against it.

"NAMA asserts that Barber Creek Land, the signatory of the plaintiff's employment agreement and recipient of his alleged services, is exclusively liable to plaintiff," the latest court documents stated.

Nama sold the Georgia Golf Cub development last year at a loss of $80m to Los Angeles-based Alvarez & Marsal Real Estate and KRE Capital.

Irish Independent