Government grants extension to Project Eagle inquiry

Sale of mostly Northern loans by Nama mired in controversy

Cerberus bought the Project Eagle loans in 2014.

Cerberus bought the Project Eagle loans in 2014.

 

The Government has granted a three-month extension to the judge-led inquiry examining the 2014 Project Eagle sale of billions of euro worth of debt by the National Asset Management Agency.

The loan sale saw US investment fund Cerberus purchase €5.6 billion worth of non-performing debt mostly linked to borrowers in the North. The sale became mired in controversy after allegations raised in the Dáil by then TD Mick Wallace around the circumstances under which it was completed. The Comptroller and Auditor General later found the sale had resulted in a “probable loss” to the state of €220 million.

The fifth interim report of John Cooke, the judge leading the inquiry, was published by the Government on Friday evening. The judge has been granted an extension due to the length of time it has taken to re-interview witnesses and find experts to examine the sale who are not subject to a conflict of interest.

An expert report on the corporate governance aspects of the sale has been completed and shared with Nama, which requested an extension to the deadline to produce a reply – which was due originally by Friday.

Financial aspects

A separate expert report on the financial aspects of the sale is expected shortly, and while delays have held back work on the substantive content of a final report, the judge has told the Government that the work of summarising evidence, sketching out the structure and headings of a first draft is “well advanced”.

Nama has disputed the findings of the C&AG’s report and maintains that the loan sale achieved the best possible outcome for the taxpayer given the circumstances.