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Archive for May 10th, 2013

Following reporting of the John Fraher affidavit here last week, which prompted the threat of an injunction by NAMA, a complaint was made to the Office of the Data Commissioner about the apparent disclosure by NAMA to third parties of confidential loan information. The ODPC provided an initial response which included a statement that NAMA has now made a report on the leak to it; further questions asked are extant, but the ODPC has a target of responding to messages within 15 working days.

You will recall that the data apparently disclosed by NAMA included names of individuals and companies and businesses with the par value of loans together with the amount NAMA paid for the loan. This is highly confidential personal information, and according to John Fraher, the details included borrowers with which he was not directly connected.

Elsewhere in the Dail on Wednesday, the Sinn Fein finance spokesperson asked Minister for Finance Michael Noonan about the apparent leak. In what is one of the most bizarre responses seen on here, Minister Noonan says he does not propose to comment as the disclosure is a matter within the jurisdiction of the Courts.

No, it is not. The Courts recorded a judgment of €5.9m against John Fraher, and that is the end of the matter. But the leak of the information by NAMA is completely peripheral to the (disposed of) court case.

I doubt you have heard the end of this matter.

The parliamentary question and response are here:

Deputy Pearse Doherty: To ask the Minister for Finance further to an affidavit filed in the High Court in Dublin in which the National Asset Management Agency was seeking a judgment against a person (details supplied), if he will confirm that NAMA has provided confidential details, both the par value of the loan and the NAMA acquisition value, to persons not directly connected to the borrowers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21635/13]

Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan: I am advised that this matter relates to a position taken by a NAMA debtor in attempting to defend judgment proceedings taken by NAMA against him. I do not propose to comment as this relates to a matter which is within the jurisdiction of the Courts.

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NAMAAdminCosts2012

The unaudited accounts for NAMA for 2012 which were published a fortnight ago contain very little detail. You can’t even tell what its staff costs are – above is the best breakdown you’ll get in the accounts, and staff costs are included in “Costs reimbursable to NTMA” because all NAMA staff are contractually employed by the NTMA.

We learned this week that in 2012, NAMA spent €21.952m on salaries and that excludes employer pension contributions and PRSI. Further, NAMA says that its average headcount in 2012 was 217 which indicates an average salary of €102,579.

NAMA presently employs just shy of 250 staff, and we recently learned that three staff at the NTMA earning more than €200,000 have declined to continue 15% waivers in 2013. NAMA staff recently sent a stiff letter to management expressing concern about the cuts that Croke Park 2 cuts would have had on their salaries. For an Agency that is still nursing a €710m cumulative loss despite having acquired its loans at just 43c in the euro, the bolshie attitude looks out of place.

The parliamentary question and response are here:

Deputy Pearse Doherty: To ask the Minister for Finance further to the publication of the 2012 unaudited accounts for the National Asset Management Agency, the staff costs excluding employer pension contributions and pay related social insurance in 2012; the average number of full time equivalent employees at the Agency during the year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21641/13]

Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan: All NAMA staff are employees of the NTMA and under section 42 of the National Asset Management Agency Act 2009, the NTMA assigns staff to NAMA. NAMA reimburses the NTMA the costs incurred by the NTMA in assigning staff and providing business and support services to NAMA. NAMA staff costs, excluding employer pension contributions and PRSI, were €21.952m in 2012. NTMA staff members are subject to the Public Service Pension Deduction. The average number of NTMA employees assigned to NAMA during the year was 214.

NAMA also draws on the NTMA’s shared services in a number of areas including Finance, HR, IT and market risk. Staff costs in the provision of these shared services are not included in the above figure.

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HousingAgencySocialHousing

The good news is that the Housing Agency is now providing monthly updates on the number of residential property units – houses and apartments – sold and leased by NAMA for social housing. The bad news is that 18 months after environment minister, Phil Hogan did a victory lap when he trumpeted that NAMA would provide 2,000 homes for social housing in 2012, that by the end of April 2013, just 263 homes have in fact been acquired by local authorities and approved housing bodies. And of these 263 homes, 58 were in fact provided in the summer of 2011, before Minister Hogan’s announcement for 2012. And as noted on here previously, the failure to deliver the target is not NAMA’s fault.

NAMA has bent over backwards to make its property available for social housing. It has provided lists of 4,000 homes and extensively engaged with the Department of the Environment and others to deliver the homes. The fault for non-delivery is firmly the Government’s, and it is galling that the Government’s capital budget was underspent in 2012 to help met the deficit run up by Minister James Reilly’s Department of Health.

The latest figures from the Housing Agency say that the 263 homes provided by NAMA to date comprise 179 apartments and 84 houses. There are a further 76 homes – 3 apartments and 73 houses – where contracts have been entered into, but the homes are not yet completed. We learned in a parliamentary question this week, that of the 4,000 homes offered for social housing by NAMA, the Housing Agency and local authorities have “confirmed demand” for just 1,500 of these.

In respect of completions, we learned in April 2013 that NAMA had entered into a relationship with the National Association of Building Co-Operatives (NABCO). NABCO is to complete the construction of part-constructed NAMA housing and it will then be leased for social housing.  At the time, there was a statement on the NABCO website but it appears to have been removed today, and a search for NAMA or “national asset” on its website yields no results. In the Dail this week, the Sinn Fein finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance about the relationship and you won’t be surprised to learn the response was “I am advised by NAMA that the particulars of the lease agreement, including term length and rental fee, have been negotiated in confidence with NABCO as a commercial counterparty and it would not be appropriate for the Agency to publish such details as it could prejudice the conduct or outcome of NAMA’s negotiations with other commercial counterparties”

So, not much transparency on NAMA’s social housing dealings, either.

The parliamentary question and response are here:

Deputy Pearse Doherty: To ask the Minister for Finance if he will outline the arrangement between the National Asset Management Agency and the National Association of Building Co-Operatives; the number of properties to which the arrangement relates; the length of the lease terms; if NAMA is charging market rents; the location of the properties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21636/13]

Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan: NAMA, through its subsidiary National Asset Residential Property Services, has entered into an agreement to lease 13 houses in Cobh, County Cork to the National Association of Building Co-Operatives (NABCO). I am advised by NAMA that the particulars of the lease agreement, including term length and rental fee, have been negotiated in confidence with NABCO as a commercial counterparty and it would not be appropriate for the Agency to publish such details as it could prejudice the conduct or outcome of NAMA’s negotiations with other commercial counterparties.

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