Developer says he was intimidated by Nama

Cerberus is ‘robust’ firm, developer tells Stormont inquiry into North property deals

Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson. Developer Paddy Kearney said he got in touch with Mr Robinson to ask for his help in dealing with Nama

Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson. Developer Paddy Kearney said he got in touch with Mr Robinson to ask for his help in dealing with Nama

 

“Nama did in three years without firing a shot what the terrorists couldn’t do in 50 years,” property developer Paddy Kearney said when giving evidence to the Stormont inquiry into Nama’s sale of property in Northern Ireland.

Belfast-born Kearney, one of the “Maple 10” group of businesspeople who bought shares in Anglo Irish Bank in 2008, also said the US’s Cerberus Capital Management, which acquired the Project Eagle portfolio for £1.2 billion (€1.7 billion), was one of the most “robust” commercial organisations he had ever dealt with.

“Cerberus do not do sweetheart deals,” Mr Kearney said.

The purchase of the portfolio, which gave Cerberus the right to seek repayment of £4.3 billion owed by developers to the agency, is at the centre of claims that politicians and businessmen were to benefit from the deal. The company denies any wrongdoing.

Allegations

KilmonaPeter Robinson

He said past evidence alleged he was in some way involved with others in manipulating in a criminal, corrupt manner the sale and purchase of Project Eagle, resulting in a sweet-heart deal for himself and his company – then known as PBN Holdings – from Cerberus.

Mr Kearney told the committee these allegations were “unfounded and unsubstantiated”. He stressed he had not received preferential treatment from either Cerberus or Nama during his dealings with them.

Mr Kearney also reiterated that he “was not and had not been involved at any time in fixing, dirty or corrupt, crooked activity”.

Instead he suggested he was the subject of a campaign by faceless individuals who had an agenda driven by “envy, mal-intent, resentment and a sick need for revenge”.

Debt forgiveness

He also criticised the role Nama played during its time in the North and the way it treated him. Mr Kearney said it sought to “frighten and intimidate” him into giving up control of his company and then to bribe him with the promise of debt forgiveness. But he refused the agency’s advances and had never wanted debt forgiveness because in his opinion he had not done anything wrong.

The developer told the committee it was against this backdrop he got in touch with Mr Robinson to ask for his help in dealing with Nama.

Mr Kearney said Mr Robinson subsequently wrote to Nama chief executive Brendan McDonagh asking that he meet the developer to discuss the agency’s reasons for seeking to enforce his loans. He said there was nothing improper in this.