Thursday 18 January 2018

NTMA 'watching TV in sideroom on night of guarantee'

Brendan McDonagh, head of NAMA
Brendan McDonagh, head of NAMA

A TEAM from the National Treasury Management Agency were left unconsulted in a side room watching TV on the night of the Government bank guarantee.

Brendan McDonagh, now head of NAMA (National Assets Management Agency), but who was director of finance at the NTMA (National Treasury Management Agency) at the time, described to the Banking Inquiry how he got a call from then Department of Finance secretary general Kevin Cardiff asking him to come to Government Buildings without explanation on the night of September 29, 2008.

Mr McDonagh (inset) and a colleague, Oliver Whelan, were left in an adjoining room from 9pm and only told about the guarantee when the decision had been made at 1am.

"We didn't know what was going on. We were not part of the discussions," he said.

His abiding memory of the night was watching CNBC on a portable TV showing the Dow Jones Index had fallen by 700 points.

"We could see the world was collapsing, not just Ireland," he added.

They were not told anything until Mr Cardiff came into the room at 1am and said the Government had decided to give a bank guarantee.

He said he was "surprised because I suppose there was no substantive discussion before that. It just seemed such a big decision."

He said that it was his personal view that the banks were insolvent on the night of the bank guarantee.

The inquiry also heard that NAMA hopes to be able to pay an estimated surplus of €1bn to taxpayers by 2020.

To date fewer than five of NAMA's 772 debtors have repaid their loans in full, Mr McDonagh said.

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