Project Eagle casts a long shadow over Nama
Published 02/06/2016 | 02:30
It seemed straightforward when the Nama press release arrived in journalists' inboxes back in 2014.
"Based on the recommendation of its adviser, Lazard, the National Asset Management Agency (Nama) has today announced the sale, subject to contract, of the Project Eagle portfolio of loans to affiliates of Cerberus Capital Management."
Two years later, though, and the saga around the loan sale shows no sign of abating.
Project Eagle was a loan portfolio made up of nearly all the loans Nama had that were tied to assets in Northern Ireland.
The portfolio had a par value of €5.7bn but Cerberus bought them for about €1.6bn. That discount was not particularly unusual at the time, given the fact that many of the loans were in arrears or default.
There the matter seemed to lie until last July, when Independent TD Mick Wallace made a number of allegations about the sale process in the Dáil, including an alleged payment to an unnamed politician.
At the centre of the allegations was the alleged role of businessman and former member of Nama's Northern Ireland Advisory Committee Frank Cushnahan.
The Eagle sale has since sparked an inquiry by the Northern Ireland Executive, and the matter was turned over to the UK National Crime Agency last year. The arrests appear to be the next step in that process.