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Top Nama official takes up post at UK property firm

A SENIOR official at Nama who was responsible for managing some of its biggest and most indebted borrowers has taken up a new job with a London-based property investment firm just weeks after leaving his position with the agency, the Sunday Independent can reveal.

Prior to his departure from Nama, Paul Hennigan had been employed for two years as a portfolio manager with responsibility for recovering monies owed by several major debtors, including Derek Quinlan, before being promoted last June to the role of senior asset recovery manager. Mr Hennigan left the agency on April 25 last and has since secured a position as a partner with Prime London Partners (PLP), a company which, according to its website, offers its clients "in-depth acquisition expertise and invaluable local property knowledge" of the UK capital.

In 2011, Mr Hennigan's new employers acted for a Malaysian wealth fund that paid Nama €172.3m (Stg£147.5m) for 11-12 St James's Square in London – offices formerly owned by investors David Arnold and Deirdre Foley of D2. While there is no prohibition on former Nama employees going to work in companies with which the agency does business, news of Mr Hennigan's move will invariably raise eyebrows within Dail Eireann.

But whatever disquiet there may be in political circles in relation to Nama for its perceived failure to prevent former executives from taking up lucrative positions, as with all other former employees Mr Hennigan may still find himself precluded from having any direct dealings with Nama on behalf of his new employers.

Mr Hennigan may have to keep in touch with Nama for some time yet though, thanks to a decision by Belfast-born property investor Paddy McKillen to issue a High Court summons against the agency last month. In setting out his case, Mr McKillen has alleged that Nama offered "improper assistance" to the billionaire Barclay brothers in their battle against him for control of Coroin, the company behind the world famous Claridge's, Berkeley and Connaught hotels.

Mr Hennigan could potentially find himself being called as witness when the matter comes to court, owing to his previous responsibilities within Nama, which included the management of the agency's borrower relationship with Mr Quinlan – a 35 per cent shareholder in Coroin – and the sale in September 2011 of €800m in loans associated with the prestigious London hotels to the Barclay interests.

Last year, Mr Hennigan was called as a witness, along with Nama head of portfolio management John Mulcahy, in Mr McKillen's High Court action against the Barclay brothers in London.

In his statement of claim for his latest legal action, Mr McKillen refers to copies of email correspondence between representatives of the Barclays and Nama officials which he claims will prove his case.

Nama, for its part, refutes Mr McKillen's claims against it and has stated its intentions to "vigorously defend" itself in the upcoming case.

Irish Independent