Thursday 20 October 2016

Daly's charity role is 'private'

Published 26/07/2015 | 02:30

GOOD WORKS: Nama chairman Frank Daly
GOOD WORKS: Nama chairman Frank Daly

The Northern Ireland businessman at the centre of controversy over claims he stood to earn Stg£5m from the sale of Nama's Northern Ireland loan book served on the board of a Catholic charity with Nama chairman Frank Daly, Special Correspondent Ronald Quinlan writes.

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Records held at the Companies Office show that former banker Frank Cushnahan was a director of Ciorani alongside Mr Daly for three years before standing down in November 2013.

Mr Cushnahan's resignation from the charity, which operates both north and south of the border, came coincidentally in the same month that he resigned from his position on Nama's Northern Ireland Advisory committee. Mr Cushnahan had been appointed to the Nama role by the late Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan in response to lobbying by Democratic Unionist MP Sammy Wilson.

According to the website of the Charities Regulatory Authority, Ciorani was established with the purpose of "advancement of the Catholic religion through the care, education, and evangelisation, within the Roman Catholic tradition of people throughout the world, especially those who are most deprived".

Companies Office filings show that Mr Cushnahan and Mr Daly served on Ciorani's board together for the three-year period beginning in 2010 and ending in 2013. Mr Cushnahan, for his part was a director between 2006 and 2013, while Mr Daly was appointed in 2010 and continues to serve on Ciorani's board to this day.

Asked by the Sunday Independent how Mr Daly had come to be a director of Ciorani and to explain what level of engagement he had with Mr Cushnahan in the three years they had served as members of the charity's board together, a spokesman for Nama said: "Frank's charitable activities are a private matter for himself and it is not appropriate for Nama to comment on them."

Efforts to contact Mr Cushnahan for comment meanwhile proved unsuccessful.

Mr Cushnahan's involvement in the sale of Nama's northern loan book - codenamed 'Project Eagle' is currently under scrutiny following revelations he stood to earn Stg£5m had one bidder, the US private equity giant Pimco, been successful.

Pimco withdrew from the bidding process voluntarily however after its compliance unit detected a request for a STG£15m success fee to be divided up between three parties - the US law firm Brown Rudnick, the Belfast-based solicitors Tughans and former Nama Northern Ireland Advisory Committee member, Frank Cushnahan.

Following Pimco's decision to withdraw from the process, another major US fund, Cerberus, succeeded in its bid for Nama's Northern Ireland loan book within weeks using the same legal firms as its advisors.

The PSNI and the UK's National Crime Agency are currently investigating allegations made in the Dáil by Independent TD Mick Wallace in relation to the Project Eagle sale.

Nama, for its part, has maintained since the outset of the controversy that there is no investigation by the PSNI of the sale of its Northern Ireland loan book. In a previous statement on the matter, Nama stressed that: "The PSNI is investigating activities relating to the purchase of these assets NOT the sale. This is a critical difference.

Frank Cushnahan has firmly denied any wrongdoing and has insisted he will fully co-operate with any police investigation.

Sunday Independent

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