Archive for December 6th, 2012

Alas, not on any budget measures announced yesterday.

“There has been considerable public and political unease about the fact that Mr. O’Brien has continued to pop up at various public events, most recently at the New York Stock Exchange. However, the Taoiseach was invited to attend that stock exchange event. The organisers of the event not the Office of the Taoiseach decided who was on the balcony for the bell ringing ceremony. It is perhaps time for the Government to reflect on how it should in future interact with people against whom adverse findings have been made by tribunals.”  Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton speaking in the Dail 28th March 2012

And today as Hillary Clinton opened a centre at Dublin City University (story via Broadsheet.ie)



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YieldEstimatesApparently it’s been with Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Phil Hogan since June 2012, and despite Opposition politicians pestering for its publication, it is only today, after the Budget 2013 announcements that it has finally been published and it is available here. You might also find it useful to consult the Budget 2013 Annex on the property tax published yesterday.

The above table shows some hard data which is apparently based on research work undertaken for the “expert group” – in reality, an interdepartmental group of civil servants with quango-king, Don Thornhill guiding them – by Ireland’s ESRI who have apparently estimated the distribution of property values. The above looks very surprising indeed with just 0.04% of properties estimated to be worth more than €1m and given the estimates earlier in the report of 1.6m eligible homes, that would equate to 640 properties. And if the tax yield at 0.1% was €0.7m, that would mean the 640 homes were worth €700m or €1.1m average each. Doesn’t feel right, but the ESRI research hasn’t been published, but has been requested by here from the Department of the Environment.

The group apparently considered nearly 200 submissions from organizations and individuals. Two recommendations appear not to have been adopted yesterday.

(1) There was a recommendation that for year 1, 2013, local authorities would be able to vary rates by 10%. This transformed to 15% in Budget 2013 but won’t be implemented until 2015

(2) The existing second home tax of €200 was to be added to the property tax, but Minister Noonan says that from 1st January 2014, the second home tax will be replaced by the property tax, which means that 2nd home owners get a benefit when compared with the recommendation in the report.

Why the Government didn’t publish this report for six months remains a curiosity.

UPDATE (1): 7th December 2012. The Government has published what appears to be quite a detailed Property Tax Bill here, and it is understood that the plan is to push it through before Christmas.

UPDATE (2): 7th December 2012. The ESRI report upon which parts of the Thornhill report are based, has been made available and is here.

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LatestDunnes6Dec12NAMA’s pursuit of the Dunnes, Sean and his wife Gayle in the US state of Connecticut is a daily source of drama. This week alone, according to the latest listing of filings in the case shown above, there were five filings on Monday and on Tuesday, there was a motion to have the NAMA case dismissed entirely. Meanwhile we wait to hear if the judge will accede to the recent NAMA request to have the case classified as “complex litigation” and we have the Dunnes trying to compel the folks making allegations about them to appear as witnesses, something NAMA is curiously resisting tooth-and-nail.

And we learned yesterday, amid the Budget 2013 histrionics, that one of the three NAMA employees whose presence is sought by the Dunnes, Kevin Nowlan has left the Agency apparently to return to work in the family business, WK Nowlan where Kevin’s father, Bill Nowlan (67) remains active.

The Dunnes had sought the NAMA CEO Brendan McDonagh, the NAMA Asset Recovery Manager John Coleman and the NAMA Asset Manager Kevin Nowlan to provide affidavits. According to last Sunday’s Sunday Independent, NAMA is strongly resisting the Dunnes’ attempts to have the three called as witnesses to the case in Connecticut where NAMA is alleging shenanigans against the Dunnes regarding transfers of assets between husband and wife, whilst the Dunnes robustly reject such accusations and in turn, accuse NAMA of undermining their reputations and business.

According to the Irish Times yesterday, Kevin Nowlan leaves NAMA after three years and will become the managing director of WK Nowlan replacing his father who, the paper claims “will in future be concentrating on developing the rapidly expanding investment section of that firm.” WK Nowlan is reported to employ 20 people.  After the recent scandal with Enda Farrell and the subsequent concerns about former employees using information acquired at NAMA, it will be interesting to see if NAMA does any business with WK Nowlan in the near future, though it should be stressed that this is a question of perception and there is no suggestion that Kevin is or would act improperly.

It is understood that Kevin Nowlan was the asset manager who would have been responsible for dealing with Sean Dunne’s specific business plan submission, and presumably would be familiar with the disclosure of transfers by the Dunner. Of course, ultimately, the business plan was rejected, and NAMA took enforcement action and eventually secured a €185m judgment earlier this year. But it seems obvious that Kevin would be a key witness to exchanges with the Dunnes, particularly in the early stages of their engagement with NAMA.

And back in July 2011, Brendan McDonagh gave an extensive interview to the Daily Mail where he gave the strong impression that he is hands-on with the pursuit of certain developers “not paying their way”. So his shyness in resisting appearing as a witness in Connecticut is a little curious. And John Coleman is the NAMA Recovery Manager who has been hands-on with the Dunnes’ case.

A curious case indeed.

UPDATE: 23rd December 2012. The Sunday Independent today reports that Gayle has been successful in getting an order from the Connecticut court forcing Kevin Nowlan to be “deposed” – in practice this should mean he files a deposition by 31st . At this stage, it just looks like he will have to submit an affidavit, but he may actually be called for the hearing which has now been schedule for September 2014, according to Ronald Quinlan in the Sunday Independent.

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