Friday 21 October 2016

Wallace can't keep making sensational claims then refuse to elaborate further

Published 16/07/2015 | 02:30

'Can Mr Wallace make sensational claims, demand inquiries and then refuse to elaborate or report them?'
'Can Mr Wallace make sensational claims, demand inquiries and then refuse to elaborate or report them?'

Independent TD Mick Wallace's claims that nearly €10m had been transferred from a Belfast law firm to a bank account in the Isle of Man following the sale of Nama's Northern Ireland loan book were simply stunning.

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Rumours had circulated for months about aspects of the purchase of the Northern Ireland loan book following the resignation of Frank Cushnahan from Nama's NI advisory committee and the departure last January, from Tughans law firm, of its former managing partner Ian Coulter.

After Mr Wallace dropped his political bombshell, Nama chairman Frank Daly told the Dáil's Public Accounts Committee that US investment firm Pimco had agreed to pay £5m (€6.97m) to Mr Cushnahan if its bid for the loans succeeded, adding some credence to questions raised by the colourful Wexford TD.

Mr Wallace's original claims made under Dáil privilege, gave political - and, critically, legal - cover for previously confidential details of the tender process and ultimate sale of the NI book, dubbed 'Project Eagle', to be aired in public. But he refused to appear before the Public Accounts Committee to elaborate on his claims, insisting that nothing less than a full inquiry was warranted.

Buoyed by his success, Mr Wallace has, like some form of exotic belly dancer, taunted us with promises of further reveals beneath his tantalising veil.

But can Mr Wallace have his cake and eat it?

Yesterday, Mr Wallace alleged in the Dáil that an unnamed Nama official sought and received a €15,000 bribe.

This is a truly staggering claim and one, if true, that warrants a full criminal inquiry.

Nama has asked the gardaí to investigate Mr Wallace's claims. And while Mr Wallace may, naturally, want to protect his sources, he also has a duty to bring any suspected criminal activity to the attention of gardaí and other relevant authorities.

This is not just wishful thinking.

Since 2011, it is an offence for "a person" not to report to gardaí any information they know or believe might be of material assistance in preventing a crime or securing the apprehension, prosecution or conviction of "a relevant offence".

Section 19 of the Criminal Justice Act was introduced to crack down on white collar crime.

And one of the most controversial aspects is the extensive list of 130 'relevant' offences it covers including offences relating to financial activities, company law, fraud, theft and corruption.

Can Mr Wallace make sensational claims, demand inquiries and then refuse to elaborate or report them?

Given the constitutional protection afforded to Dáil privilege is Mr Wallace captured by the 2011 law?

Even if he is not he should consider reporting his concerns.

Otherwise, what is the point of shouting 'fire'?

Irish Independent

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