Friday 23 June 2017

Wallace makes string of fresh allegations about Nama and Project Eagle

Mick Wallace Picture: Tom Burke
Mick Wallace Picture: Tom Burke
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Independent TD Mick Wallace has made a number of new allegations about Nama and its controversial Project Eagle deal.

Mr Wallace told the Dáil he has been provided with emails by an Asia-based businessman showing that former Nama adviser Frank Cushnahan was "peddling" assets to international investors. He also said that he has written to Nama chairman Frank Daly naming 20 individuals working for the agency that "may have engaged in serious malpractice".

He said he asked Mr Daly how many of them had been reported to gardaí and had yet to receive a reply. Nama did not offer a comment on Mr Wallace's claims last night.

Last summer Mr Cushnahan was arrested by officers from the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA) investigating Project Eagle. He denies any wrongdoing.

Mr Wallace's allegations came as a senior executive from Cerberus, the firm that bought Nama's Northern Ireland loan book, gave evidence at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

Mark Neporent, the chief operating officer of the US company, told TDs how Cerberus paid law firms Brown Rudnick and Tughans a combined £15m (€17.5m) success fee after it was chosen as the buyer of Nama's Northern Ireland loan book in 2014. Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald said the sum was "one hell of a fee" and asked what was so special about their assistance that it was worth £15m. Mr Neporent said Brown Rudnick told Cerberus it had been working for more than a year with Tughans and had developed a good understanding of the Northern Irish portfolio, the number of borrowers and their business plans, and it could be "commercially valuable information".

Frank Cushnahan
Frank Cushnahan

Mr Neporent said Cerberus was told they could get access to stakeholders, including the Northern Ireland Executive as well as "people in the Republic". Ms McDonald pointed out that a day after Cerberus engaged Brown Rudnick, former US vice-president Dan Quayle, a representative of Cerberus, met then-first minister Peter Robinson. "They were as good as their word on that, weren't they?," she said. Mr Neporent replied: "Yes".

Another bidder that had left the process, Pimco, was previously approached by Brown Rudnick proposing an alleged success fee to be shared with a solicitor at Tughans and Mr Cushnahan. How Pimco exited the process after the success fee was raised by them with Nama is disputed.

Mr Neporent said Cerberus told Nama of Brown Rudnick and Tughans' involvement with their bid. He said Nama sought assurances no payment was to be made to anyone connected to Nama. He said Cerberus sought and obtained such confirmations from Brown Rudnick and Tughans. He said Cerberus had no dealings with Mr Cushnahan at any point, insisted the firm invested in Project Eagle in good faith, and said it "acted appropriately at all times".

Irish Independent

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