Monday 23 October 2017

O'Flynn 'lifts the lid' on Nama with letter to Enda

Developer wrote to Taoiseach, Tanaiste and finance minister over "very serious matters of concern".

Michael O'Flynn
Michael O'Flynn

Ronald Quinlan Special Correspondent

One of the country's foremost developers, Michael O'Flynn has warned Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tanaiste Joan Burton and Finance Minister Michael Noonan that Nama does not have the "expertise or the skills necessary" to address the housing crisis he believes it contributed to in Dublin and other major cities around the country.

Mr O'Flynn's stinging criticism of the State's so-called 'bad bank' is contained in a letter which he sent to all three politicians last October, following the sale of his companies' loans by Nama to the US private equity giant, Blackstone.

In the letter - a copy of which has been obtained by the Sunday Independent under the Freedom of Information Act - the developer rounds on the agency over its refusal to take on board proposals made by the O'Flynn Group in late 2010 to build homes to address the country's future needs.

"You are aware of the significant shortfall in housing supply in certain areas. This was anticipated by us and others and reflected in our business plan but rejected by Nama who considered themselves to have greater expertise in this area and refused to listen to those who have extensive experience of the market and planning for development," Mr O'Flynn wrote.

Referring to the responsibility he believes the agency must bear for the current and chronic housing crisis in Dublin and elsewhere, he added: "Nama did not then nor does it now have the expertise or the skills necessary to operate as developers as is evident from the housing shortage which has arisen when Nama was the dominant player in the property market."

Commenting on Nama's future direction and indications that the agency will become more directly involved in property development, Mr O'Flynn said: "I note with considerable concern some comments made in relation to the future direction of Nama and wonder if anyone has stopped to consider the impact on the property industry generally and the Competition Law issues which would arise from such a development.

"Any proposal to extend the remit of Nama needs to be carefully considered and I would respectfully submit that it is time the rights of those of us who were directly impacted by the establishment and operation of Nama are given proper consideration".

In his letter, Mr O'Flynn expressed his concern that Nama had adopted what he believes to be a "bureaucratic and politically motivated approach" to its decision-making.

And while he accepted that the agency is entitled and obliged to seek the best return for the taxpayer, he said he rejected the "proposition that Nama is entitled to operate policies or processes which are quasi-judicial in nature or motivated by any form of prejudice".

In a direct appeal to Finance Minister Michael Noonan, he said: "As minister to whom Nama reports, I sincerely hope that you are open to hearing the voice of parties whose businesses and livelihoods have been severely and adversely impacted directly by the operations, policies and practices of Nama. In fact I would be surprised and disappointed if you were not interested and would welcome an opportunity to articulate some very serious matters of concern".

While Mr O'Flynn received acknowledgment letters from both the Department of the Taoiseach and the Tanaiste's department, there was no response from the Department of Finance.

Asked for a response to the claims being made in relation to its conduct and treatment of the developers on its books, Nama declined to comment.

Sunday Independent

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