O’Flynn shows need for Nama openness
Obsession with secrecy threatens to be Nama’s Achilles’ heel
Michael O’Flynn, managing director and and chairman of the O’Flynn Group, framed by a copper sculpture in The Elysian gardens, in front of the 1-storey apartment tower. Photograph: Provision
Nama’s obsession with secrecy has often threatened to be its Achilles’ heel; it breeds public distrust of an institution that people find hard to love.
The refusal to disclose anything other than the barest details of the purchase of the O’Flynn Group loans by Blackstone is a case in point.
In the absence of any information to the contrary, the taxpayers can only conclude that they have given Mr O’Flynn a very large bailout.
As far as we know, Mr O’Flynn owed his banks €1.8 billion when he went into Nama in 2009 and has now left Nama owing Blackstone considerably less money – the figure of €1.1 billion being reported.
Mr O’Flynn remains, subject to contradiction by Nama, in control of his company; he just has new bankers .
However, some €700 million has been wiped off his debts and sucked up by the taxpayer in one of two ways depending where the writedown took place.
If the writedown occurred when Mr O’Flynn’s loans originally transferred into Nama, the tax payer took the hit in the subsequent recapitalisation capital of the banks.
If the writedown occurred when Nama sold the loans on to Blackstone, which is unlikely, the taxpayer has funded it through Nama.
It was always understood that writedowns were going to be part of the Nama process.
But, by the same token, numerous assurances were given by Nama officials and Government ministers that the developers who ran up the debts in the first place would not, and could not under law, be the beneficiaries of the write-offs.
It would appear that is not the case and, rather than be given the benefit of the doubt, Nama should be made account for itself and not left to hide behind the flimsy excuse of commercial sensitivity.