At a recent Oireachtas committee hearing:
Deputy Pearse Doherty: Did the board of NAMA decide to take the Information Commissioner to the High Court?
Mr. Brendan McDonagh: That is not specifically in respect of FOI. It relates to environmental regulations.
Deputy Pearse Doherty: It is freedom of information under European environmental regulations.
Mr. Brendan McDonagh: It is not FOI in the way that is understood by most people. It is a particular aspect of using European environmental regulations and trying to apply them to NAMA in respect of the underlying properties. We own the loans but we do not own the underlying properties. Those properties are held by the receivers or by the debtors. There is a technical legal point around that. The matter is before the courts so I would appreciate not having to go into detail on it. My understanding is that the senior counsel we have used in recent court case is the same senior counsel we used in respect of the environmental regulations. I am not aware of him being on the other side.
In respect of the case relating Mr. McKillen last year in the Supreme Court and the costs involved, as I informed the committee previously we still have not received costs. Those costs would go to the CSSO because the case was defended by the Attorney General. I understand it is the intention of the CSSO and the Attorney General to refer them to the Taxing Master. I checked the position approximately ten days ago and we still have not received them. That is my latest understanding of the matter.
The Deputy referred to the qualifying investor fund, QIF. Effectively, this will be an independent fund in which people will be able to invest. They will actually buy the assets involved – at arms length – from NAMA. I assure the Deputy that, in that in light of the level of due diligence we carried out in respect of acquiring the loans from the banks, when these assets are being sold by the QIF – which will have its own independent board – the information and the quality of the due diligence will be a lot less. I assure the Deputy that it will be much cheaper than was the case when we originally got the assets from the institutions.