Sunday 25 February 2018

Nama distances itself from row over NI loan book sale

Independent TD Mick Wallace made the claims in the Dáil
Independent TD Mick Wallace made the claims in the Dáil
Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

Nama has further distanced itself from the row over the sale of its Northern Ireland loan book.

The agency said it had "no engagement" with a law firm that was engaged by the portfolio's buyer's lawyers and allegedly had a £7m payment earmarked for a Northern Irish politician stored in an Isle of Man bank account. The law firm, Belfast-based Tughans, said: "A former partner diverted to an account, of which he was the sole beneficiary, professional fees due to the firm, without the knowledge of the partners. We have since retrieved the money and he has left the practice."

Yesterday, a Nama spokesman told the Irish Independent that the matter had "no relevance to Nama's open competitive sales process".

"Attempts to conflate Nama's process with an internal Tughan's issue are entirely wrong," he added.

Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman John McGuinness will today write to Nama asking the agency's chairman Frank Daly and chief executive Brendan McGrath to appear before the PAC to explain the process of selling the portfolio. The bosses are expected to accept the invitation.

The issue was first raised in the Dáil on Thursday by Independent TD Mick Wallace, who called for a full independent inquiry.

Speaking on RTÉ radio yesterday, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said Nama "put forward an open tendering process to get the best bid for these properties".

She said the Government should not jump to an inquiry immediately. "I'm sure there is more information that can be put in the public arena via the very strong processes...that we have in place for Nama: the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Public Accounts Committee."

Irish Independent

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