THE GOVERNMENT HAS published an order outlining the draft terms of reference of its commission of investigation into the dealings of the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA).
The investigation was initially confirmed last September in the fallout from the publication of a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General into the sale of the Northern Irish loan book, otherwise known as Project Eagle, to US property fund Cerberus Capital in April 2014.
That report asserted that Nama had lost €220 million on the sale of the loan book, while a more recent report by the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee found that the agency had lost a total of €800 million on the property portfolio between 2010 and 2014, whilst describing the sale itself as ‘seriously deficient’.
In publishing its terms of reference, the government says that the investigation is specifically into Project Eagle, but that “further modules… (may be added) at a later stage”.
The key terms of reference, which were arrived at following “a number of meetings with the leaders of the opposition”, are:
- To report on Nama’s disposal of Project Eagle, specifically:
- Whether or not the disposal strategy used was ‘appropriate’
- If the minimum price applied to the sale was appropriate
- If the management of the sales process was appropriate from the point of view of corporate governance
- If conflicts of interest regarding the agency’s Northern Irish advisory committee were appropriately handled
- When and how Nama became aware of fees allegedly paid to members of that committee by bidders on the loan book, and
- If decisions made by both Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and his Department in relation to the sale were appropriate
The commission is bound by its terms to ‘exercise discretion’ as to the ‘scope and intensity’ of its work.
It is expected to provide an interim report to the Taoiseach within three months of its establishment.
These terms of reference will now need to be approved by both the Dáil and the Seanad before the commission is established.