Garda should investigate Nama home sale, says TD

Mon, Aug 6, 2012, 01:00

THE PURCHASE of a house by an employee of the National Asset Management Agency, which was on the agency’s books, should be referred to the Garda for further investigation, said Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath.

Enda Farrell, a former portfolio manager with Nama, bought the five-bedroom house in Lucan, Co Dublin, earlier this year.

The house was one of the properties owned by businessman Thomas Dowd which Nama took under its control. Mr Dowd paid €1.4 million for the property, Sundaywell, in 2004.

The Sunday Times reported yesterday that Mr Farrell and his wife Alice Kramer approached Mr Dowd, who sold them the property for €410,000.

Mr Farrell did not tell Mr Dowd that he was a Nama employee, nor did he tell Nama that he had bought the house, which has been used as a family home.

Nama confirmed it has launched an investigation but added that, based on its initial review and on independent valuations, it was satisfied the purchase price was “in line with market levels” when it was bought.

A spokesman for Nama said Mr Farrell, who no longer works for the agency, was not involved in approval of the transaction.

For his part, Mr Farrell said he had received Nama compliance training during which he was told that he could buy a residential property as a principal residence.

“I believe I acted with probity at all times,” he said.

However, Mr McGrath, TD for Cork South Central, said the purchase needed to be investigated for compliance with the Nama Act 2009.

“In my view, it is completely unacceptable for an employee of Nama to be allowed to conduct a private purchase of a property in the Nama portfolio in this manner,” he said, adding that it raised serious concerns about how the agency does its business.

“This raises the question of how many other times such private purchases have occurred involving Nama staff or persons connected to them.”

He also said that the effectiveness of Nama’s compliance procedures needed to be examined by an independent person appointed by the Minister for Finance.

“Nama has refused so far to say how many of its sales have been done without being advertised on the open market.

“In my opinion, all properties being sold by or on behalf of Nama should be publicly advertised and all potential bidders should be given an opportunity to compete for the property.

“I intend to raise this issue again when the Dáil resumes in September,” he said.

The spokesman for Nama said that all its officers were required to make full disclosures of assets, liabilities and interests under the Nama Act and were also required to update the statement when there was a material change.

He said that its auditors Deloitte were investigating the transaction in order to establish the factual position in relation to disclosure and fulfilment of statutory requirements.

In a statement, Mr Farrell said the fact that Mr Dowd was in Nama was publically known information and his ownership of the property was also information that was available to the public.

“The property was derelict and so it was easy to surmise that it might be for sale,” he said.

Mr Farrell said that neither he nor his wife had told Mr Dowd that he worked for Nama. However, he said that in July 2011, before he had identified a property, he had discussed the possibility of acquiring a Nama property with the head of compliance in the agency.

He said that during compliance training within Nama he had been told he could buy residential property as a principal residence.

He said that he did not inform senior officials at Nama that he had bought the house.