Business Banking Inquiry

Saturday 17 March 2018

Heart attack may stop witness Cushnahan from giving Nama evidence

Frank Cushnahan
Frank Cushnahan

Dearbhail McDonald and Shane Phelan

Frank Cushnahan, a former member of Nama's Northern Ireland Committee, has suffered a heart attack and may not be able to testify before a parliamentary inquiry.

It is understood the prominent Northern Ireland-based businessman experienced ill health in recent days.

Mr Cushnahan stepped down from his Nama advisory role six months early, in November 2013, citing "personal reasons" and family concerns.

He subsequently became involved as an adviser with Pimco, a US investment firm which had expressed an interest in Nama's NI loan book.

The sale of the controversial "Project Eagle" loan book to another US investment firm, Cerberus, is mired in controversy and is now the subject of a parliamentary inquiry and an investigation by the UK's National Crime Agency. Mr Cushnahan has yet to be interviewed by the NCA and was unlikely to address the parliamentary inquiry while that investigation is ongoing.

His recent ill health may further place any attendance in jeopardy.

The development came as it emerged a former business associate of Mr Cushnahan has come forward offering to give evidence to a parliamentary inquiry into the sale of the portfolio.

A solicitor representing property developer and bookmaker Gareth Graham wrote to the Northern Assembly's committee on finance and personnel last Friday.

Mr Graham was a Nama debtor before his loans were sold to Cerberus in the €1.6bn Project Eagle deal last year.

Mr Cushnahan, a former banker, was previously a shareholder in a number of Mr Graham's businesses. It is understood that the committee will consider, among other matters, how Mr Cushnahan came to be appointed to Nama's Northern Ireland Advisory Committee.

In March 2014 Pimco was requested to withdraw after it emerged Mr Cushnahan stood to earn Stg£5m in consultancy fees if they were successful.

Mr Cushnahan has denied any wrongdoing.

Mr Graham's solicitor Niall Murphy said his client had evidence which could assist the committee's fact-finding review.

Irish Independent

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