Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has withdrawn allegations that property developers are ripping off the taxpayers of Ireland via NAMA – after admitting he has no evidence to back his claim.
Kenny had warned on Monday that developers were buying back their assets at a fraction of their value from the state agency NAMA.
The Fine Gael leader even said he had instructed his Minister for Finance Michael Noonan to look into the allegations that the assets seized by the agency were being sold back to builders for less than they owed on them.
Now Kenny has been forced into an embarrassing climb down after failing to produce any evidence of such a practice.
A spokesman for the Irish government leader confirmed: “There is no evidence of any wrongdoing. Mr Kenny is happy that developers are not buying land cheaply and there is no need for an investigation.
“Mr Kenny won’t be contacting the agency with any fresh information because he did not claim to have any proof for his concerns.”
NAMA – the National Assets Management Agency – reacted to the claims by reminding the Prime Minister that legislation brought in by the last government bans NAMA or its receivers from selling land to developers who have defaulted on loans.
Kenny’s spokesman admitted that his boss had received his information from just ‘one or two people’ before making the claims.
“He’s happy that it’s being guarded against and that it’s not happening,” the spokesman told the Irish Independent.
“No one has approached him with evidence. He just heard it in passing. No one has made a formal complaint.”
In his initial comments, made off the cuff on Monday, Kenny had expressed concern that developers whose loans had been taken over by NAMA could buy back land on the cheap.
He said: “I am concerned about some reports that those who have had assets acquired from them and put into NAMA have been making attempts to acquire them by a variety of methods and I intend to meet with the Minister for Finance who will be discussing these matters with NAMA in due course.”
The allegations were quickly rebutted by NAMA chairman Frank Daly.
Daly said: “NAMA has absolutely no evidence of anything like this happening and repeated a call for anyone with information to contact the agency so it could be investigated. “I noted the Taoiseach’s comments in relation to this and I can assure the Taoiseach and everybody else that NAMA is determined that properties will not be sold back to defaulting debtors.”