Wednesday 21 February 2018

Nama €30k 'bribe' man in earlier Garda probe

Former official already questioned about other alleged misconduct

Nama CEO Brendan McDonagh
Nama CEO Brendan McDonagh
Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

The Nama official who is alleged to have demanded a €30,000 bribe from a construction company is already under investigation by gardai in relation to separate allegations of misconduct while working for the agency.

An investigation by the Sunday Independent can reveal that the individual in question left his position with Nama some time ago, and has since taken up an advisory role with a major property developer. As part of his duties, the former Nama employee has been assisting the developer in identifying properties held by Nama debtors which he believes may be suitable for acquisition.

Informed sources within the property industry have told this newspaper that the former Nama officer and the developer have visited Dublin on business on a number of occasions in the past two years. The Sunday Independent is aware of the identity of one Nama borrower who was approached by the two men directly with a view to discussing the sale of one of his assets.

Last Wednesday, fresh allegations of misconduct by the former Nama man hit the headlines when Independent TD Mick Wallace claimed under Dail privilege that the individual had demanded a cash payment of €15,000 to be given to him in a bag by the directors of a construction company who were seeking to negotiate their exit from Nama.

Asked by the firm's directors - whose names are known to the Sunday Independent - about the possibility of getting out of Nama, Mr Wallace told the Dail the former Nama officer said: "Yes, but it will cost you €15,000 in cash, and I want it in a bag'."

The Wexford TD said the construction firm paid the money and a few weeks later that "he demanded the same again. They duly obliged and all was sorted".

Efforts by this newspaper to contact the former Nama officer at the centre of Mr Wallace's allegations proved unsuccessful.

Approached at his home last week, one of the directors of the construction firm which is alleged to have paid the €30,000, declined to make any comment. A visit to the offices in an effort to speak to a second director of the company proved to be similarly unsuccessful.

Nama, for its part, is treating the latest allegation by Mr Wallace with the utmost seriousness.

Responding to the Wexford TD's Dail claims last Wednesday, Nama CEO Brendan McDonagh wrote to Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan personally. In his letter, Mr McDonagh expressed his concern that the claim that an unnamed Nama officer had sought two payments of €15,000 from a Nama debtor to facilitate their exit from the agency "casts a shadow over all Nama officers if not investigated as a matter of urgency".

Speaking on RTE Radio 1's Morning Ireland programme last Thursday morning, Mick Wallace responded to calls for him to bring the matter to the gardai saying: "It's been put to me now - am I going to go or will I talk to the gardai about this particular issue? I don't have a problem bringing the information to the guards."

Mr Wallace's latest allegation comes just two weeks after he used Dail privilege to claim that in the course of Nama's sale of its €5.7bn Northern Ireland loan book - code-named Project Eagle - a sum of Stg£7m had been lodged in an offshore bank account which was "earmarked" for a Northern Ireland politician or political party.

While the matter is being investigated by Northern Ireland's Finance Committee and the UK's National Crime Agency, Nama has stressed that there is no police inquiry into Nama's sale of the loans.

Sunday Independent

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