It’s been a difficult few years for NAMA Top 10 Clare-developer, Bernard McNamara (63). He was one of the first developers to admit that he was in grave financial difficulty following the collapse of the banking/property sector from 2007 onwards. NAMA had receivers appointed to a raft of his companies. NAMA has sued him in Dublin’s High Court and last November 2012, Bernard was declared bankrupt in the UK. Bernard’s wife, Moira is apparently suing NAMA in the High Court and last year, there were a number of reports of Bernard dusting himself down and getting on with business in what might be considered an exotic location – Nigeria.
The Nigerian operation has been a touchy subject, with Bernard distancing himself from the operation, and, according to the Irish Independent in August 2012, Bernard’s lawyers said “that his [Bernard’s] son Michael McNamara also had no shareholding in the Nigerian company and only had a “very limited involvement in the Sokoto Project” as a “non-executive director who attends quarterly board meetings”.”
Tomorrow, we are set to find out a lot more about that operation in Nigeria, with a Nigerian national taking legal action in Nigeria against McNamara Nigeria Limited and seeking to include an associated company, Dram Constructions Nigeria Limited, in the action.
The application centres the rights and rewards accruing to the applicant, a Nigerian lawyer apparently, whose name is Uzoma Nwakuche. It is claimed by the applicant that the directors of McNamara Nigeria Limited, a company incorporated in Nigeria in July 2009, are Michael McNamara, James Godley, Jack Butler, Michael O’Brien, Pat Fox and three Nigerian nationals. There is all sorts of mud thrown in the application at an Irish dissolved company, Dramsaway Limited whose sole shareholder was Moira McNamara.
Papers seen by this blog purport to describe the history of the McNamara operation in Nigeria, and particularly the construction of a brand new university campus with housing in Sokoto, a state in Nigeria’s federated country, located in the north-west of the country. See below.
We do know from previous traditional media reports that Bernard had some involvement in the construction of the university campus – he’s pictured here at the signing the contract – but Bernard has since gone to some lengths to distance himself from the operation, asserting that he was merely a consultant to the project. It is claimed in the applicant’s papers that the construction contract was worth €120m.
The picture painted by the Nigerian applicant’s statements of himself is that of a key player in getting McNamara off the ground in Nigeria. It is claimed that in 2009, the former Nigerian ambassador to Ireland, Kema Chikwe invited Irish companies to participate in projects in Nigeria. The applicant claims to have been a friend of the ambassador’s son, and in that way, came to know Jack Butler, Bernard McNamara and Michael McNamara in Ireland. The applicant claims to have known a key Nigerian decision-maker in the Sokoto university project, and that it was the applicant who helped broker the deal which saw McNamara Nigeria build the university campus. It is claimed by the applicant that Jack Butler was the main mover in the McNamara empire in Ireland, getting the relationship going, though in 2010, it is claimed by the applicant that Bernard McNamara and others visited Nigeria to progress the university project and Bernard is portrayed as the lead character in securing the contract from the Irish end. It is claimed by the applicant that “Jack Butler and Bernard McNamara had always said that the equipment/assets would come to Sokoto from a pre-cast plant located at Longford in Ireland. I recall that a figure of €7.4m was placed on the cost of relocating the pre cast plant from Longford to Sokoto. When funds were received into account of McNamara Nigeria Limited they were immediately transferred to Dram Construction Nigeria Limited” He goes on to say “I can further say that Bernard and Michael McNamara receive commission on work completed and valuations submitted for payment based on the 51% equity structure. These monies I believe fund Bernard McNamara’s business activities in Nigeria. The bills are sent to the Sokoto State on a monthly basis and the State pays on average on a 60-90 day cycle”
The significance of the case and its relevance to the audience on here, appears to be the alleged degree of involvement by Bernard McNamara in the Sokoto university development, and how the alleged contract price was divvied out amongst participants in the project.
The case reference at the Nigerian Federal High Court is FHC/ABJ/CS/727/2012 and the case is set to be heard from tomorrow. A request for comment was made to Bernard McNamara using his new website which promotes his role as a construction consultant, and to Jack Butler at AfricanMCConstruction but at time of writing there hasn’t been a response.
UPDATE: 23rd January, 2013. A local Nigerian media outlet has reported on yesterday’s case and given part of the other side of the story. The case has been adjourned to 18th Febryary, 2013.