Saturday 24 September 2016

FF and SF want inquiry into sale of Nama loan book

Philip Ryan, Niall O'Connor and Peter Flanagan

Published 08/07/2015 | 02:30

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said an independent commission of inquiry was 'urgently required'
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said an independent commission of inquiry was 'urgently required'

The Government is facing mounting calls to set up a commission of inquiry into allegations surrounding the sale of Nama's Northern Ireland loan book.

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Both Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil raised deep concern surrounding the €1.6bn sale of the loan book to US firm Cerberus Capital during leaders' questions yesterday.

The debate focused on the fact that a separate firm, Pimco, withdrew from the bidding process after it brought to Nama's attention its concerns about "unsolicited approaches" by a third party.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said he was concerned "insider trading and political cronyism" was at play. Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said an independent commission of inquiry was "urgently required".

But Jobs Minister Richard Bruton rejected the calls for an inquiry. Mr Bruton said Nama would appear in front of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) tomorrow, during which members could ask questions about the issue at hand.

The PAC will hold an emergency meeting today to discuss compelling Independent TD Mick Wallace to give evidence relating to his allegations surrounding the sale of Nama 'Project Eagle' loan book.

The committee will also discuss inviting Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson. He has denied any involvement in the Project Eagle sale.

Last week, Mr Wallace told the Dáil that a routine audit of a legal firm involved in the loans sale, Tughans, revealed that "£7m had ended up in an Isle of Man bank account ... reportedly earmarked for a Northern Ireland politician".

Mr Wallace has turned down the invitation to attend, claiming it would "serve no purpose".

PAC chairman John McGuinness said Mr Wallace's refusal "undermines his credibility and the credibility of his allegations" while another member of the PAC, Fine Gael's Patrick O'Donovan, called it a "slur" on the committee.

The row came as the Law Society of Northern Ireland confirmed that Ian Coulter, a former partner at Tughans at the centre of allegations around the Isle of Man account, is covered by the society's regulations.

Irish Independent

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