Wednesday 7 December 2016

Nama official suggested Project Eagle deal could proceed despite fixer fees

Published 25/10/2016 | 15:12

Nama is housed in the Treasury Building in Dublin. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Nama is housed in the Treasury Building in Dublin. Photo: Steve Humphreys

A senior National Asset Management Agency (Nama) official suggested there may have been a way for the original bidder of the Project Eagle loan book to remain in the sale process despite the emergence of fixer fees.

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The explosive revelation was contained in notes of phone conversations between senior Nama staff and US investment firm Pimco - the company lined up to buy the agency’s controversial Northern Ireland portfolio.

However, Pimco pulled out of the €1.2bn sale after it emerged Frank Cushnahan, who previously worked for Nama, sought a success fee from the US firm for his work on the project.

Nama has always maintained Pimco was left with no choice by the State agency but to leave the sale process after the so called success fees emerged.

However, in the notes given to the Public Accounts Committee, Nama’s then head of assets Ronnie Hanna is recorded asking Pimco if it had “considered other options” after the alleged success fees for Mr Cushnahan emerged.

Tom Rice, a solicitor working for Pimco, asked Mr Hannah what other options would be available.

In response, Mr Hanna suggested the deal “could be shaped differently” and the success fee could be withdrawn.

Appearing before the PAC, Alan Stewart, the senior Nama solicitor who took the note, said the comments related to a previous conversation with Pimco.

Pimco previously revealed it was to pay a success fee of £5 million each to Mr Cushnahan, Northern Irish firm Tughans and US lawyers, Brown Rudnick as part of the Project Eagle deal.

Pimco left the sale process when the firm realised such as payment was in breach of its legal obligations.

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