It should be stressed at the outset that this story is 100%-based on Simon Carswell’s report in the Irish Times today where he claims that NAMA is investigating one of its employees, portfolio manager Colm Lundy and his links with a NAMAed developer (and company where Colm has been a director in the past), Newlyn Developments. NAMA has not commented on the claim about the investigation apparently and the Irish Times was unable to get in touch with Colm despite “repeated efforts” which is hardly surprising – if NAMA won’t comment at an official level, how do you expect a lowly employee to comment in his own right? What the Irish Times claims is at issue is whether or not Colm was upfront about his involvement with Newlyn – NAMA “is examining whether Mr Lundy has any personal exposure to Newlyn’s debts or connected borrowings and, if so, whether this has been disclosed to the agency.” From today’s report it seems that Colm had a fraught relationship with his former employer, Newlyn, taking it to the Employment Appeals Tribunal and suing it in the High Court for unpaid profits.
You’d have to wonder how Simon at the Irish Times got wind of this story – it’s not something you’d expect NAMA would want to shout about, nor Colm himself. Presumably the only current exposure that a former director of a company might have to the company’s debts would be via a personal guarantee that wasn’t cancelled when the director left the company – and NAMA would presumably now have details of those personal guarantees since it acquired Newlyn’s loans. Even if the exposure was to a non-NAMA loan the business plan of the developer would presumably give details of the exposure. And presumably NAMA has decent civil-service standard procedures for recording conflicts of interest when it employs people. So “investigation” seems a grand description for what should be a pretty quick check. As I say this blogpost is 100%-based on what Simon Carswell writes.
Separately, Newlyn itself seems to be a minnow in NAMA’s assortment of developers. The Irish Times reports that the company had bank loans of just €22m in July 2010 – NAMA has a minimum acquisition threshold of €20m for loans at AIB and Bank of Ireland, €5m at Anglo and no threshold at EBS and INBS. The €22m owed by Newlyn in 2010 may not all have been owing to NAMA banks. Newlyn is probably most associated with the €2bn stalled development of Bray Town Centre, but it has also been involved with the following developments : Tyrrells Brook (Edenderry, Co Offaly), Cairnbrook Avenue (Carrickmines, Dublin), Wyvern (Bray, Co Wicklow), Grand Canal Court (Herberton Bridge, Dublin 8), St Olave’s (Kinsealy, Co Dublin), Newberry (Edenderry, Co Offaly), Block 10/11 (Montague Lane, Dublin 2), Bray Civic Centre (Bray, Co Wicklow), Southern Cross Business Park (Bray, Co Wicklow), Bray Town Centre (Bray, Co Wicklow), Woodstown (Rathfarnham, Dublin 16), 622 homes at Kilternan (Co Dublin), Victoria Boulevard (Vilamoura, Portugal), O Pomar (Portugal), Four Seasons Country Club (Quinta do Lago, Portugal), Rutland House (Rutland Street, Leicester, UK)
Directors and representatives of Newlyn include Robert Kehoe, Christy Dowling, George McGarry, John Archbold and Chris Vaughan
UPDATE: 19th November 2012. Simon Carswell of the Irish Times has today reported that Colm Lundy left the Agency and in May 2012, he set up CL Asset Management. Neither Colm nor NAMA is commenting on the apparent investigation last year.