Saturday 21 October 2017

Eagle's potential loss bigger than £190m

Making a few important changes to the Finance Act could mean huge gains for the state, writes Stephen Donnelly

Finance Minister Michael Noonan. Photo: Tom Burke
Finance Minister Michael Noonan. Photo: Tom Burke

Stephen Donnelly

The potential loss of £190m to the state from Project Eagle is getting much attention. But there's a much bigger loss to the state from Project Eagle… about £500m in potential tax avoidance. And unlike the £190m, that £500m can be brought in, if we just make a few important changes to the Finance Act in October.

Project Eagle was Nama's sale of its entire Northern Ireland loan book to Cerberus, a New York-based private equity firm specialising in 'distressed investing'. Also the name of the multi-headed dog preventing the dead from leaving the underworld.

The whiff surrounding Project Eagle became an unignorable stench when BBC's Spotlight programme aired footage of businessman Frank Cushnahan in a car park allegedly accepting £40,000 in cash from one of Northern Ireland's wealthiest people. Mr Cushnahan was a member of Northern Ireland's Nama committee, and the gentleman with the money was a Nama borrower.

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