Business Irish

Tuesday 21 January 2020

NAMA starts legal action over €20m sale of shares to Ronan and Barrett

Treasury Holdings principals, Johnny Ronan and Richard Barrett: NAMA seeking to reverse deal.
Treasury Holdings principals, Johnny Ronan and Richard Barrett: NAMA seeking to reverse deal.
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

NAMA has taken legal action to try to reverse a controversial €20m sale of Chinese property shares to developers Johnny Ronan and Richard Barrett.

The National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) has filed papers with the High Court in Dublin seeking to reverse a 2010 deal that saw the Ronan and Barrett-owned property giant Treasury Holdings sell the two men €20m worth of shares in a Chinese property investment vehicle.

The two paid for the shares with €100,000 in cash and an unsecured loan.

The controversial deal, known as the Treasury Asia Investments Limited or "Tail" transaction, closed in 2010 before NAMA took control of €1.7bn of loans owed by the Treasury Holdings property empire.

NAMA has never claimed that the Tail deal was illegal, but has said it wants it reversed in order to maximise the sums it can recoup for taxpayers from the €1.7bn of Treasury loans it holds.

The Treasury Holdings owners previously said that the sale of shares at market value in a company listed on the Singapore stock exchange cannot legally be reversed.

Previously, Treasury, Mr Ronan and Mr Barrett have all said they are willing to reverse the effect of the deal by giving Treasury - and through it NAMA- a charge over the shares, as part of a deal as part of wider negotiations with NAMA.

NAMA is undertood to be claiming that the deal amounts to an asset transfer.

The legislation that set up the toxic loan agency gives NAMA specific powers to reverse any such asset transfer deals if they damage the agency's prospects of recouping money for tax payers.

NAMA executives have cliamed that around one in four of the biggest developers on its books have been involved in asset transfers.

A number of those deals have been reversed before now -- but following negotiation rather than court action.

Details of the "Tail" sale first emerged during an earlier High Court action taken by Treasury against NAMA's appointment of receivers to key Treasury assets at the start of this year.

Receivership

Treasury Holdings went to the High Court in an effort to reverse the NAMA receiverships

Last month the Court gave Treasury permission to mount a full legal challenge on the decision to appoint receivers, in the form of a judicial review.

No date has been set for that hearing yet, and NAMA has continued to take Treasury connected assets into receivership since the High Court ruling.

The most recent receivership appointments were made earlier this week.

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