Tuesday 6 December 2016

Former Nama advisor at centre of controversy claims phone call recordings were 'illegal'

Published 14/09/2015 | 11:26

Frank Cushnahan
Frank Cushnahan

The former Nama advisor at the centre of the Project Eagle controversy has claimed the recording of his phone calls was illegal.

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Frank Cushnahan was responding to revelations at a parliamentary inquiry that tapes had been made of thousands of calls involving him, bankers, solicitors and politicians.

A former business associate, developer and bookmaker Gareth Graham, said he would be handing the recordings over to police investigating the sale of Nama’s northern loan portfolio.

Mr Graham claimed the recordings demonstrated "an ingrained culture of inappropriate and quite possibly illegal business conduct".

However, in a letter to the Stormont inquiry, solicitors acting for Mr Cushnahan said he rejected Mr Graham’s claims.

The letter also claimed the recording of the calls was illegal and done without Mr Cushnahan’s knowledge.

Mr Graham testified at the inquiry a fortnight ago that all calls in an out of his bookmaking business were recorded for regulatory reasons.

In the letter, Mr Cushnahan also rejected Mr Graham’s claims that he maintained a 5pc interest in companies whose loans were in Nama after taking his position as a Nama advisor in 2010.

Mr Cushnahan’s representatives said he gave up the shareholding in 2009 and denied there was any conflict of interest arising.

The sale of the portfolio for €1.6bn last year has been shrouded in controversy since Independent TD Mick Wallace alleged in the Dail in July that a northern politician or party stood to benefit from Stg£7m in an Isle of Man account.

Mr Cushnahan became a central figure in the controversy when Nama revealed at the Dail Public Accounts Committee that he stood to earn Stg£5m if US investment firm Pimco had been successful in buying the Project Eagle loans.

Nama learned of the proposed fee in March 2014, five months after Mr Cushnahan had resigned his role as an advisor to the agency.

Nama said it expressed concerns about the proposed fee to Pimco, which subsequently voluntarily withdrew from the bidding process.

The portfolio was sold the following month to US vulture fund Cerberus.

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