Business Irish

Thursday 22 March 2018

Those who made hay in boom got plum Nama jobs

Just who is working in Nama's property field? Mark Keenan puts 10 of the bad bank's names under the spotlight

The demand from the developers was as bold as brass: The Taoiseach should ensure that two thirds of NAMA jobs be provided to those with "recent relevant experience in banking or property."

The demand from the developers was as bold as brass: the Taoiseach should ensure that two-thirds of Nama jobs be provided to those with "recent relevant experience in banking or property".

When Nama was being set up, their representative Tom Parlon -- boss of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) and former junior minister for housing -- issued the private missive to then Taoiseach Brian Cowen. When details of the mail emerged it caused outrage and the Fianna Fail- led government dismissed it, saying that Parlon's demand had been ignored along with another which sought to ring- fence developers' personal homes from creditors.

But, three years on, we can be forgiven in thinking that the Parlon missive was followed to the letter. It appears that the bad bank has, exactly as Parlon demanded, recruited wholesale from the ranks of those who were making hay at the height of the boom in the domestic property and banking industries.

Nama, which was recently on a recruitment drive, has immunity to Freedom of Information enquiries and it keeps its salary levels out of the public domain. But details of a public accounts committee meeting held last November did reveal that Nama employees earned an average of €100,000 in 2010. In the private sector, a property portfolio manager today commands between €70,000 and €100,000, but property industry sources claim that Nama remunerations for portfolio managers have averaged closer to €120,000.

The following is a selection of employees who have been taken on in the last three years by Nama -- and one external consultant --alongside details of what they were doing during the boom.

Helen Moore

What was she doing during the boom?

In 2006 Moore cut a dash in designer suits, whizzing about between housing developments for meetings with big- name developers like Michael Cotter and Ray Grehan -- whose interests she represented as a director of new homes with Savills -- when sources say a director's salary at a big agency was €100,000.

Moore's agency was famously exposed in the book Ireland's House Party -- What the Estate Agents Don't Want You to Know, written by its former head of research Derek Brawn. In it Brawn claimed, among other things, that he was dressed down by the company bosses for telling the Irish Independent in 2007 that house prices needed to fall by 20 per cent, and said he was subsequently ordered to issue a release outlining 10 reasons to invest in property.

In any case the directors had already sold the firm (then HOK) in mid-2006 to British- based Savills for €50m and exactly at the boom's high tide mark. As a latecomer, Moore did not qualify for the windfall, but as a director was core to the decision-making at Savills.

She advised developers on public/private partnerships as first spearheaded by Parlon. These linked big developers to bigger State projects, and she conducted risk analysis on larger projects of the type that are now in Nama. Moore's former firm cited Nama work as a key reason for its return to profitability in 2010.

Michael Moriarty

What was he doing during the boom?

Moriarty headed up Bank of Ireland Private, set up, as the name suggests, to cater for those who wanted to invest in private. According to market sources, BoI Private catered largely for high net worth individuals. Here Moriarty was interviewed by inspectors for the Ansbacher inquiry, and the final report was critical of his bank's clearance of accounts run by Des Traynor along with BoI Private's involvement with Ansbacher's Irish business overall. BoI Private did not agree with the conclusions and claimed it had conformed with all required due diligence in relation to Traynor.

In 2003 Moriarty became MD of CB HOK Investors to set up property deals on behalf of wealthy Irish clients and to put syndicates together. In mid-2006 he moved to Goodbody's to syndicate property investment there.

John Mulcahy

Mulcahy was a senior partner and chairman with Jones Lang LaSalle Ireland, whose clients include the Bank of Ireland workers' pension fund and the CIF pension fund. The company advised the owners of the Irish Glass Bottle site before its €412m sale in 2007. Nama has since asserted that Mulcahy did not have any personal involvement, but subsequent allegations that he had been holidaying on the yacht of bottle site beneficiary Paul Coulson didn't help.

In 2007 Mulcahy was "optimistic" for the commercial property market, but two years later told an Oireachtas committee that he "had been a bear for the past four years".

His appointment drew controversy because JLL was lucratively appointed one of Nama's key valuers. In 2010 it was revealed that he had held a €2.3m shareholding in the company. Nama assured us by stating that Mulcahy must always leave the room when JLL matters are discussed. Last year JLL Ireland filed profits of €1.2m and paid its directors €6.8m.

Kevin Nowlan

Before Nama, he worked as MD at his father's property asset management consultancy WK Nowlan. Bill Nowlan had managed Irish Life's property portfolio when it was Ireland's largest. Among WK Nowlan's clients listed on its website are Bovale and Nama. Previous to WK Nowlan, Nowlan junior worked for developers Johnny Ronan and Richard Barrett of Treasury Holdings, and before that he was at Anglo Irish Bank whose clients included Treasury, Gannon and Bovale.

Declan Ballance

Declan Ballance was based at David Arnold's D2 Private, where he was investment manager responsible for arranging finance for big property projects. In 2009 he joined Irish Nationwide as a senior commercial manager, reporting to the chief executive Gerry McGinn.

Alison Rohan

Acting for David Arnold's D2 Private property investment company, in 2006 she was involved in the acquisition of a key building in Dawson Street along with former AIB chairman Dermot Gleeson and Sean FitzPatrick's son Jonathan.

She is the daughter of Ken Rohan, an influential developer who has been linked to Des Richardson, former Fianna Fail fundraiser and long-time friend of Bertie Ahern

Paul Hennigan

Hennigan was an executive in the Risk Management Department at Bank of Ireland, the first Irish bank lender to launch 100 per cent mortgages and the country's leading proponent of punting on Irish mortgage loan risk to international funds in minute slices -- better known as securitisation

Donal Kellegher

During the boom he was head of development land at Savills, one of Nama's five appointed valuation firms. Here he would have rubbed shoulders with many of that agency's big developer clients. Controversially, it was revealed that he still held about €88,000- worth of shares in Savills in 2008.

At Savills his department had advised the vendors of the notorious Irish Glass Bottle site.

Ray Gordon

Gordon is not directly employed by Nama but is the external consultant who handles its PR affairs. In 2006 his biggest client was Ireland's leading mortgage lender, Permanent TSB, which he still represents. Gordon distributed its long-running property price monitor once considered the definitive house price monitor for government policy but latterly discredited as non-reflective of the market due to inherent faults in its calculating systems.

PTSB was investigated for the so-called €7.5bn "bed and breakfast" loan which window dressed Anglo's balance sheet, and was criticised for raising rates above 6 per cent to maximise earnings from "trapped" negative equity mortgage customers.

The former PD adviser headed communications at Irish Life when it ran Ireland's largest property investment portfolio. In the early Nineties the company was the focus of the Mespil scandal, which saw apartments sold from under elderly tenants to New City Estates and then on to a "golden circle" of buyers at knockdown prices with 100 per cent mortgages. Irish Life Homeloans also stung "trapped" mortgage holders in the early Nineties with rates of 17 per cent.

Gordon's previous company was hired by Government to publicise the National Development Plan, and he has been hired by the Society of Chartered Surveyors -- which represents members working for and based in Nama.

Representing the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), Gordon issued the very first Nama press release even before its PR contract was tendered. Gordon maintains that he works for the NTMA with a remit to cover Nama.

PR industry sources say the Nama contract was actually tendered (his old firm Kinman says it was among those which submitted), and that the account's worth is believed to be over €300,000.

Sunday Independent

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