On 6th February 2013, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan executed one of the most financially significant acts of his two year term in office, the liquidation of Irish Bank Resolution Corporation. It was over two weeks later when we found out in passing that as part of the liquidation, NAMA had been directed by the Minister to provide a €1bn credit facility to IBRC at 1.52% per annum. It was almost a month after, that Minister Noonan finally published the text of the directions he gave to NAMA.
But the directions published are pretty meaningless without the supporting schedules, deeds, transfers and perhaps most importantly, the facility agreement which makes €1bn of our money available to an insolvent bank at 1.52% per annum.
This week in the Dail, the Sinn Fein finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty asked for the supporting documents, and surprise, surprise, they are “commercially sensitive” and Minister Noonan refuses to publish them.
So, the Minister has finally found a means to politically direct NAMA without revealing such directions to the public. Next time, the Direction might just say “Dear NAMA, I command you to carry out the actions listed in the attached Schedule, Sincerely, Michael”
The Directions issued to NAMA as part of the IBRC liquidation represent a departure for this administration. Not only were the Directions published a month later after at least one request from the Opposition, but the Directions omit the meat of what is being directed. This all represents a serious deterioration in transparency, even compared with the previous administration and if allowed to stand, give unfettered direct political control over NAMA. And it’s not exactly reassuring to know that the NAMA Board including the so-called independent member, Steven Seelig, promptly approved the Directions given by the Minister.
The full parliamentary question and response are here:
Deputy Pearse Doherty: To ask the Minister for Finance further to the eventual publication on or after 4 March 2013, of the Directions given by him to the National Asset Management Agency in respect of the liquidation of Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, if he will now publish the documents referred to in the directions, namely the facility agreement, deeds, transfers and schedules.
Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan: I do not intend to publish the documents referred to in the directions, at this time, as they contain commercially sensitive information which if released could have a detrimental effect on the outcome for the taxpayer.