Nama inquiry seeks extension for final Project Eagle report

Commission looking at Nama’s sale in 2014 of Northern portfolio

The Government appointed retired High Court judge John Cooke in June 2017 to investigate Nama’s £1.24 billion (€1.38 billion) sale in 2014 of the portfolio to US distressed-debt firm Cerberus.

The Government appointed retired High Court judge John Cooke in June 2017 to investigate Nama’s £1.24 billion (€1.38 billion) sale in 2014 of the portfolio to US distressed-debt firm Cerberus.

 

The Commission of Investigation into the National Asset Management Agency’s (Nama) controversial sale of its Project Eagle portfolio in the North has asked the Government for a six-month extension to the end of June for a final report to be completed.

The Government appointed retired High Court judge John Cooke in June 2017 to investigate Nama’s £1.24 billion (€1.38 billion) sale in 2014 of the portfolio to US distressed-debt firm Cerberus.

Independent TD Mick Wallace had alleged in the Dáil that £7 million in fees related to the transaction had been lodged in a bank account in the Isle of Man that was “reportedly earmarked for a Northern Ireland politician or party” following the transaction.

Inquiries

The allegation sparked a number of inquiries, including that of the Government-appointed commission. New York-based Cerberus has denied any connection to any wrongdoing, while Nama has said the allegations relate to the buy-side of the transaction.

Mr Justice Cooke, the sole member of the commission, was originally set to deliver his report last June, but sought a six-month extension. In his third interim report, dated November 30th, and published on the website by the Department of the Taoiseach on Thursday, he said he will endeavour to submit the final report “in the early part of 2019”.

In order to allow for possible delays caused by requests for changes to the report, the commission “respectfully requests a revision of the timeframe . . . until 30th June 2019,” he said, adding that the commission’s cost to date has come to about €1.1 million.

Separately, High Court judge Brian Cregan, presiding over a commission of investigation into Irish Bank Resolution Corp (IBRC), expects it will take him six months after oral hearings conclude next June to write a draft report on the 2012 sale of Siteserv to a company controlled by businessman Denis O’Brien.

Report

An interim report, also published by the Department of the Taoiseach on Thursday, said that oral hearings started at the end of October last year. The commission has so far heard from corporate finance advisers to Siteserv, IBRC, Siteserv’s legal advisers and directors as well underbidders for the business.

Mr O’Brien’s company, Millington, paid €45.5 million for Siteserv. State-owned IBRC, formerly Anglo Irish Bank, wrote off €110 million of the company’s loans around the time of the transaction.

Mr Justice Cregan said in the latest interim report that he expects oral hearings to finish next June, with a draft report completed by end-December. Allowing for a review period for relevant parties, he has suggested that a final report be submitted to Taoiseach Leo Varakdar on March 31st, 2020. The commission’s costs had come to €4.56 million by the end of October.