NAMA’s old nemesis, senator Mark Daly is back. Just before Christmas, he introduced a bill to the Seanad aimed at improving the transparency of sales by both NAMA and IBRC (the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation which is the new name for the merger of Anglo and Irish Nationwide Building Society). According to the senator’s website, he was given permission to introduce the bill as a private members bill.
The bill is called “NAMA and Irish Bank Resolution Corporation Transparency Bill 2011” and is just four pages in length and here’s the meat of it.
You might recall that Senator Daly made headlines in January 2011 when he levelled serious allegations at NAMA, claiming that the Agency was selling assets below market value to persons associated with the borrower. The senator who is an auctioneer (equivalent to estate agent in other jurisdictions) repeated the claims on several occasions. However when challenged and asked to provide details that might be independently verified, the senator demurred even in the Seanad where he would enjoy privilege. This lead to interest in the senator’s claims to wane, until An Taoiseach Enda Kenny spoke at the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly in June 2011 to express concerns along the lines of Senator Daly’s claims, only to withdraw his concerns a couple of days later and pronounce himself satisfied with NAMA’s conduct in the disposal of assets.
You might also recall that Fine Gael had promised in its General Election manifesto in February 2011 to ““The details of all non-performing loans acquired by NAMA will be available for scrutiny on a Public Register”
I don’t think there will be many in the country that would take issue with the senator’s proposed bill, though I can see legal issues with NAMA disclosing details of property which has not been foreclosed – borrowers normally enjoy confidentiality provided for in lending agreements, and as long as the loans are being serviced in accordance with the loan agreement, they might consider themselves entitled to a continuation of that confidentiality. On the other hand, according to the latest NAMA accounts for Q2,2011, the percentage of non-performing loans (which doesn’t exactly equate to loans that have broken loan agreements because some loan agreements provided for capitalisation of interest costs) was 77%.
What now for the bill? Given that Fine Gael had made promises of greater transparency at NAMA in its general election manifesto and given the senator is a Fianna Fail member, you might think the chances for the bill progressing would be quite good. You can see its latest progress in the Oireachtas here. NAMA had no comment on the proposed legislation, which is consistent with the Agency’s general stance in distancing itself from the political process.