Tuesday 20 March 2018

US fund denies it paid fee for €1.6bn Nama deal

Frank Cushnahan was on a Nama advisory committee
Frank Cushnahan was on a Nama advisory committee
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

A US vulture fund has reiterated denials that it paid for or sought advice from a former Nama adviser when it was buying the agency's Northern Ireland loan portfolio.

Cerberus said it never employed controversial ex-Nama adviser Frank Cushnahan in connection with the €1.6bn Project Eagle deal.

A spokesman pointed to statements previously issued in which the firm stated: "No improper or illegal fees were paid by us or on our behalf."

The denial came after a BBC 'Spotlight' programme broadcast a secret recording of Mr Cushnahan admitting he was in line for a fee from the €1.6bn deal.

The sale has been subject to investigations by the UK's National Crime Agency and a parliamentary inquiry in Stormont, since revelations last summer that Stg£7m linked to the deal was found in an Isle of Man bank account.

The recording contradicts previous denials by Mr Cushnahan that he was due to receive money.

In a conversation with property developer John Miskelly and accountant David Gray, Mr Cushnahan said he and Ian Coulter, a former partner of Belfast law firm Tughans, did all the work on the deal but his role was kept secret over concerns expressed by Nama.

Mr Cushnahan said Mr Coulter moved Stg£6m into a holding account so that he, Mr Cushnahan, could be paid a fixer's fee. But the money was returned to Tughans and Mr Coulter resigned from his role at the law firm.

Mr Coulter has insisted there was no wrongdoing.

Mr Cushnahan's solicitor, Joe Rice, told the Irish Independent it was unlikely his client would be making a statement about the recording.

Mr Cushnahan, a former banker and leading official in the office of the North's First Minister, was on the Nama northern advisory committee from 2010 until 2013. Nama later became aware that Pimco, a bidder for the Project Eagle portfolio, had been asked for a Stg£5m fee for Mr Cushnahan. Pimco subsequently withdrew from the process and the loan portfolio was sold to Cerberus.

Irish Independent

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