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Snippet Contents:

On a different subject, I want to touch on the role of the European Union, and in particular the European Commission, during the establishment of NAMA. When NAMA was originally set up in late 2009, it was in clear breach of the EU state aid rules, under Article 107 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. However, as we know, the European Commission granted Ireland a special exemption to receive state aid due to the ongoing banking crisis, albeit with a number of conditions. The Commission stated that, with regard to the state aid exemption, it had received commitments from the Irish authorities at the time that the rights and exemptions contained in the NAMA Act would not lead to a distortion in the market in NAMA's favour. At this stage it now looks as though we have not held up to our end of the bargain. Under the reign of the previous Minister, Deputy Noonan, the Department of Finance allowed NAMA turn into an entirely different animal than it was originally intended to be, and in my opinion, in direct contravention of the NAMA Act. NAMA is now one of the largest developers in the State, with plans to build 20,000 houses by 2020. NAMA was set up to remove the bad loans and related assets of same from the balance sheets of the Irish banks and to manage them. It was not set up to develop expensive houses that the majority of Irish people could not afford. To my knowledge, there have been no amendments to the NAMA Act since 2009 yet it seems it can ride roughshod over its statutory obligations.
Another area where NAMA has ignored the provisions of its own Act is in relation to auditing. In the most recent financial statements, the chair of the NAMA audit committee, Brian McEnery, stated: "As the NAMA group entities are 51 per cent privately owned and operate to return dividends to shareholders, the companies were deemed to be trading for gain and the C&AG is not therefore in a position to audit the statutory financial statement of the NAMA group entities after 15 June 2015". That seems to be in direct breach of section 57(1) of the NAMA Act, which states: "NAMA and each NAMA group entity shall submit its accounts to the Comptroller and Auditor General for audit within 2 months after the end of the financial year to which they relate". It seems that the Comptroller and Auditor General is to be punished for exposing the truth about how NAMA operated on Project Eagle. Is the Government happy for NAMA to do that? If it is, that would beggar belief.