Friday 19 January 2018

Nama in bid to destroy my name, says Crosbie

Dockland developer highlights sacrifices he made for State body

Harry Crosbie
Harry Crosbie
Harry Crosbie. Photo: Tony Gavin

Niamh Horan and Ronald Quinlan

DEVELOPER Harry Crosbie has broken his silence to accuse Nama of seeking to discredit him through "a deeply damaging" public portrayal of him.

Speaking exclusively to the Sunday Independent, Mr Crosbie – whose pioneering vision for the regeneration of Dublin's docklands is widely acknowledged – claimed sensationally that he had been warned that "criticising Nama in public was dangerous" and that he should refrain from doing so "no matter how offensive or bullying" they were in their dealings with him.

"I have spent the last four years dealing with Nama, the last two without public comment because I was told that criticising Nama in public was dangerous, no matter how offensive or bullying they were in their dealings with me. This week, however, it's gone too far. Clearly, civil silence doesn't work with this all-powerful entity," he said.

A Nama spokesman declined to comment on Mr Crosbie's allegations.

Mr Crosbie – whose achievements include the development of the Point (now the O2), the Grand Canal Theatre, and the Convention Centre Dublin – spoke out at the end of a turbulent week in which Nama applied to the High Court for summary judgment of a massive €77m against him. While that amount reflects his personal debt, Mr Crosbie's total indebtedness, including his companies, amounts to some €431m.

While Mr Justice David Keane has reserved his decision on the matter, details of communications between Nama and Mr Crosbie aired in the course of the agency's application to the court last Wednesday have proven to be deeply hurtful to the developer.

Included in the items raised by Nama in the course of one letter to the developer on August 3, 2012, were claims that he made substantial cash payments to family members following the acquisition of his companies' loans by Nama and that he had failed to disclose his share in the ownership of an investment property in France in his original statement of affairs.

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Responding to the controversy surrounding those matters, Mr Crosbie said: "Some of the allegations that went into print this week against me are completely false. Some are true and easily explained.

"But the point is this. Nama knew them for the past two years and using an old letter to destroy my reputation is unconscionable.

"Whatever about the effects of the extraordinary economic crash that struck this country and the immense social impact, nobody can doubt my enormous contribution to the city over my lifetime. This is no way for a State body to behave."

He added: "The letter in which these accusations were made is two years old.

"After that letter, I came to a written agreement with Nama. Since then, Nama has had full knowledge of all of my affairs."

Commenting on the provisions of the written agreement which he has insisted in an affidavit submitted to the High Court to be "full and binding" and arrived at on August 24, 2012, Mr Crosbie highlighted the major sacrifice he had made to forge a deal acceptable to Nama.

He said: "The Point/O2 had always been free of debt. It was never charged to any bank ever. It was free of debt and generating profits of over €10m a year.

"It was acknowledged by Pollstar, which is the American rock bible, as massively successful. It was found to be the fourth busiest arena in the whole world.

"I sacrificed it. I sacrificed my life's work to get this deal which Nama has now refused to perform for reasons known only to them."

Returning to his reasons for maintaining his silence up to now on his dealings with Nama and its alleged failure to honour the "full and binding" deal he insists he struck with it, Mr Crosbie said: "The generalised fear generated by Nama is difficult to challenge. They hold all the cards and limitless funds and they don't care how they play them. Nama is trying very hard to divert attention from their failure to honour the deal they did with me."

Referring to Nama's request for summary judgment against him now, Mr Crosbie stated his belief in his affidavit to the High Court that the "proceedings are clearly designed and intended to repudiate and nullify that agreement, secure judgment against me and make me a bankrupt".

Those assertions were flatly denied, however, in the High Court last Wednesday by Senior Counsel for Nama, Paul Sreenan, who said there were no grounds for Mr Crosbie's claim that Nama had agreed in August 2012 it would not move to enforce against him and he had no real or bona fide defence to the claim for judgement.

Sunday Independent

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