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Monday 11 December 2017

Commission of Investigation to be held into Nama Project Eagle sale

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A State inquiry into the biggest property deal in Northern Ireland's history will investigate if dealings between Stormont and Dublin leaders were appropriate.

The Government has given the go-ahead for a commission of investigation into the Republic's toxic assets agency Nama and its controversial Project Eagle sale.

The massive collection of Northern Ireland property loans, taken over by Nama after the economic crash, was sold to US investment fund Cerberus in April 2014.

The deal was "seriously deficient", the Irish parliament's Public Accounts Committee concluded earlier this year after a long-running probe into aspects of the sale.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan

Another big investment company said last year it pulled out of buying the portfolio because it was asked for a fixer payment of £16 million for three parties behind the scenes.

Former Stormont finance minister Mairtin O Muilleoir has said Northern Ireland's entire political system was corrupted by the €1.2bn sale - while the region's business, legal and accounting sectors were left tainted.

Agreeing terms of reference for an inquiry, the Dublin Cabinet said it would investigate whether the sale was appropriate, if the price paid was appropriate and whether there were any conflicts of interest among Nama's Northern Ireland advisers.

It will also probe fees allegedly payable to a former adviser.

Furthermore, it will investigate if the decisions and actions of Dublin's Finance Minister Michael Noonan, "including communications with members and officials of the Northern Ireland Executive" and meetings with potential bidders were appropriate.

The commission will also inquire into "anything arising outside the State that it considers relevant", the government has announced.

An interim report to the Taoiseach is expected within three months of the inquiry being set up.

A final report on the first module of its work must be finished by the end of June 2018.

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