NAMA cannot claw back millions of euro in assets belonging to developers who transferred properties to their wives and families just before the State's 'bad bank' was set up.
The National Asset Management Agency only has the power to pursue assets transferred to relatives since December 2009 as part of its efforts to recover billions of euro owed by indebted developers.
It cannot seize properties and other assets transferred before that date, the Irish Independent can reveal.
The revelation is in contrast with the strong statements being made by Finance Minister Brian Lenihan. He has said that while the Government couldn't prevent developers from moving abroad they would not be able to escape their debts.
Yesterday, a NAMA spokesman said the agency would use all powers at its disposal to collect monies owed by developers.
"Our preference is to work with debtors with a view to their loans being repaid," he said. "However, where that is not possible, then we will use all the means at our disposal within the law to pursue debtors."
Mr Lenihan included a provision in the NAMA legislation to give the bad bank power to "set aside" or reverse transactions that favoured family members and allowed developers to avoid using them to repay their debts.
But it is now clear that this will only apply to assets in a developer's name after December 2009.