THE wife of beleaguered developer Bernard McNamara bought a luxurious apartment in New York for $2.58m (€1.8m) in 2008, just as the global financial crisis was taking hold, the Sunday Independent has learned.
Documents filed with the New York Land Registry show that Moira McNamara -- who is a co-director of a number of her husband's companies -- bought into the exclusive Warren Street Condominium in the fashionable Tribeca district in New York's Greenwich Village on September 12, 2008, paying $2.586m for a single residential unit.
Records of the transaction show that Ms McNamara was the sole purchaser of the property. There is no indication given in any of the documents that the acquisition was funded through the provision of a mortgage.
The disclosure today that Ms McNamara is the owner of what would appear to be a substantial debt-free property asset in the United States is sure to raise eyebrows amongst the wealthy group of Davy investors currently pursuing her husband for the repayment of €62.5m he owes them arising from the judgement granted by Mr Justice Peter Kelly in the commercial court three weeks ago.
The Davy investors -- who include former AIB Chairman Lochlann Quinn and Glen Dimplex founder Martin Naughton -- secured the record judgement after arguing successfully that the Clare-born developer had failed to honour the terms of the loan-financing agreement they reached with him for the acquisition of the former Irish Glass Bottle site in 2007.
In an emotional interview in the immediate aftermath of Mr Justice Kelly's landmark decision, Mr McNamara declared that he was broke, having borrowed against all his personal assets in an effort to support his ailing property business.
"I've put all my assets on the line, including private residences, every damn thing I've had since I was a young fella," he said.
While there is no suggestion Ms McNamara made a calculated decision to purchase her New York apartment in her name alone as opposed to jointly with her husband, legal experts say it will not be possible for the developer's creditors to seek to have any liens placed on the property's title.
Ms McNamara's sole purchase would also appear to leave the New York condo beyond the reach of the National Asset Management Agency (Nama), which is currently in the process of transferring the €19bn in property and associated loans of the Irish banks' top 10 developer borrowers.
For although Section 211 of the Nama Act gives the High Court the power to declare the disposal or transfer by individual borrowers of assets into their partner's or spouse's names as void in certain circumstances, it is not equipped to deal with cases where those assets or properties were registered in the partner's or spouse's name solely in the first place.
Interestingly, Ms McNamara's purchase of her $2.58m New York apartment was completed within three months of the Sunday Independent revealing that her husband's property business had a staggering €1.5bn in loans from its various banks.
Mr McNamara, for his part, vehemently disputed the accuracy of that report at the time.
Within hours of Mr Justice Peter Kelly's judgement against him three weeks ago, the troubled developer conceded that the figure was accurate.
Efforts by the Davy investors, meanwhile, to recover their money continue apace.
Two weeks ago, the group which invested in the Irish Glass Bottle site under the name of the Jersey-based Ringsend Property Ltd secured a further court direction aimed at allowing it to move quickly to enforce their judgement against Mr McNamara for €62.5m.
The Davy investors had been told initially by the Central Office of the High Court that it could take between six to eight weeks to obtain the required certi- ficate of registration of the judgement.