News Irish News

Monday 18 December 2017

Nama must hire insider to 'turn State's evidence'

FG's Brian Hayes calls for whistleblower to expose developers who are still living high life


FINE Gael TD Brian Hayes has said Nama should seek to employ an insider to "turn State's evidence" as part of a crackdown on property developers who are still living the high life.

His statement comes as a Sunday Independent/Quantum Research telephone poll found overwhelming unease at those lifestyles and the manner in which Nama is dealing with developers.

In an interview with the Sunday Independent, Mr Hayes, a deputy finance spokesman, said he got a sense that Nama was "five steps behind" certain developers.

Ninety per cent of those questioned said Nama is not being "robust" enough in its dealings with such developers, while 95 per cent said that developers who transferred assets to wives had acted "unfairly", and 74 per cent said the Government should not be paying rent for property transferred to Nama. Mr Hayes said that Nama needed to adopt a "big stick" approach and "play hardball" with certain developers.

"A lot of these lifestyles haven't been changed. The helicopters are there, the Ferraris are there, the houses are there, and people don't see any difference," he said.

His comments follow the broadcast of an RTE Prime Time Investigates show last week that examined the lifestyles of top Nama developers and, also, what they had done with assets.

The revelations contained in the programme have provoked national outrage, specifically in relation to the legal transfer of assets to spouses prior to the establishment of Nama, but also in relation to the sums in rent which are being paid by the State to Nama developers.

Mr Hayes said: "It seems to me, if you're trying to get to the bottom of property transfers, and asset transfers, I don't think it's a bad suggestion, for instance, that Nama would employ former property developers as a means of turning State's evidence; as a means of getting into the minds of some of these people, with what they do with their assets.

"I think the problem is that the public looked upon this aghast, that here's a situation that a lot of these lifestyles haven't been changed.

"I think that's why it requires a much tougher and stronger response on the part of Nama, and if that means employing people who actually can get to the root of these transactions, so be it."

While technically the term "State's evidence" usually refers to evidence given by a criminal against his or her associates, it may also be used in a more general sense.

There is no suggestion that the Nama developers have acted illegally.

Mr Hayes added: "Nama carries a big stick. It seems to me that Nama has got to up its game. I think you get a sense from Nama that it's kind of five steps behind the action. It's a joke that the State is now paying top dollar for renting commercial properties that effectively have been transferred to Nama. The State needs to use its muscle."

Sunday Independent

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News