US firm claims their departure from Project Eagle bid 'repeatedly mischaracterised' by Nama
The US firm that sought to buy the Project Eagle loan portfolio has claimed that Nama has “repeatedly mischaracterised” how it withdrew from the sale process.
Pimco has sent what one TD described as a "potentially explosive” letter to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that contradicts Nama's version of events.
The committee is probing the controversial sale of Nama's Northern Ireland loan book in light of the Comptroller and Auditor General's finding that the agency incurred a probably loss of £190m (€223m) in the 2014 deal.
Nama has rejected this finding.
Pimco's letter was read into the public record by committee chairman Seán Fleming TD this morning.
The firm's chief legal officer in Europe, Tom Rice, wrote: “Pimco has been disappointed that Pimco's withdrawal from Project Eagle has been repeatedly mischaracterised by Nama”.
Pimco's withdrawal came after it asked Nama if it was aware of an alleged £16m sucess fee that was to be split equally paid to the agency's Nama's former adviser Frank Cushnahan and law firms Brown Rudnick and Tughans.
The letter states that Picmo was approached by Brown Rudnick on two occasions seeking a success fee.
Mr Rice states that the first request made in June 2013 was later refused. The letter states that Pimco contacted Nama after a new fee proposal from the law firm in February 2014.
He writes: "At this point, it appeared to Pimco that disclosures still had not been made by the relevant parties to Nama.
"Accordingly, Pimco decided to contact Nama directly and take it upon itself to disclose full details of the success fee arrangements that had been proposed by Brown Rudnick, including the amount and intended recipients.
"In particular, Pimco sought clarification on Nama's awareness of Mr Cushnahan's role in Project Eagle".
Mr Cushnahan has denied any wrong-doing.
Mr Rice's letter details various contacts with Nama including a communication on March 11, 2014 where Nama advised that its board “considered the involvement of Mr Cushnahan to be a very serious issue for Nama”.
The letter states that Pimco later “informed Nama that it did not want to be part of any process where there was any suggestion of impropriety and was willing to withdraw”.
Pimco claims that Nama asked if the firm “had considered 'other options' such as proceeding without the three parties”.
The letter continues “On March 12, Pimco advised Nama that it had no option but to withdraw from Project Eagle” and it claims: “Nama expressed disappointment but accepted the decision”.
A different firm subsequently bought the loan portfolio.
The contents of the letter directly contradicts evidence given to the PAC by Nama chairman Frank Daly.
He previously told TDs that Nama was responsible for Pimco leaving once the issue of the fee came to light saying: “they withdrew because they knew we would not let them continue”.
Fianna Fáil TD Marc McSharry this morniing called the Pimco letter “potentially explosive” while chairman Mr Fleming said the committee will seek a detailed response to the letter from Nama.
A Nama spokesman said:
"Nama has made its position clear to the PAC on the withdrawal of Pimco from the process.
"The NAMA Board was very clear that, if Pimco did not withdraw, then NAMA would exit them.
"Nama rejects any suggestion that it did not set out the circumstances of Pimco’s withdrawal accurately."