Sunday 20 May 2018

Cushnahan breaks his silence over Nama furore

Former NI advisor insists he did not profit from loan book sale

Statement: Former Nama advisor Frank Cushnahan
Statement: Former Nama advisor Frank Cushnahan Newsdesk Newsdesk

This weekend, in a statement to the Sunday Independent through his lawyers, Frank Cushnahan has responded to sensational claims made about him.

They say he has "consistently denied any wrongdoing and has now been released from police bail".

Here, Mr Cushnahan breaks his silence:

"On the 3rd September 2015, I wrote to Mr [Daithi] McKay seeking an explanation as to why the offices of the Finance Committee were being used as a platform for certain people to speculate in a sensational and wholly inaccurate way about my conduct. I also questioned expressly the reason why Mr McKay was permitting Jamie Bryson to give evidence to the Committee. That letter was never answered and it is now obvious why Mr McKay did not answer it.

"One of the more sensational allegations made against me relates to an apparent conflict of interests that I had during the period that I was a member of the Nama Advisory Committee. I would respond to those allegations as follows: Those responsible for appointing me to the Nama Advisory Committee and those in charge of Nama were fully aware at the time of my appointment of the fact that I was an advisor to a number of Nama debtors.

"I am pleased that the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General acknowledges that fact. In other words, to the extent that there was ever a conflict between my role as an advisor and my other roles within Northern Ireland at that time, it was always disclosed and known.

"Further, it has been suggested in some outlets that I was in some way through my membership of the Advisory Committee a public servant in the Republic of Ireland. I was asked by the Northern Ireland Executive to sit as a member of the Nama Advisory Committee, not its Executive Committee. I had no role whatsoever in any Executive Committee decisions concerning individual debtors.

"I had no access to confidential information through my Nama position relating to any debtor. The Advisory Committee did not discuss individual debtor cases. In the discharge of my role as an advisor I was paid the sum of €5,000 per annum as an honorarium.

"The reality is that I was not and never was and was never considered to be a public servant in the Republic of Ireland while a member of the Advisory Committee.

"Indeed, the only reason why the Northern Ireland Executive insisted on having some representation on Nama was because, without the representation from myself and one other person, Northern Ireland would have been bereft of any representation of any sort in any decision made by Nama, even though Nama controlled all of the debts owed by Northern Irish developers in relation to Northern Irish property that lay outside the jurisdiction of the Republic of Ireland.

"I would also like to correct some other misconceptions relating to my involvement in the sale of the Northern Ireland loan book, repeated as recently as this Saturday in the press: At no time did I benefit financially from the sale of the loan book. I have not made one penny from the transaction.

"At an earlier stage of the sale process Pimco expressed an interest in the purchase of the loan book. That did not proceed. At no time was I ever a paid advisor to Pimco. Had Pimco proceeded to purchase the loan book, my understanding was that there was the possibility that I could be appointed by them to an executive role with appropriate remuneration. It has been suggested that, in the event of the purchase of the loan book by Pimco I was to receive €5m. I was never a party to any such agreement.

"As the public has seen, I have been the subject of covert recordings. My privacy has been infringed by others, including John Miskelly and the BBC in a manner about which I continue to receive legal advice with a view to instituting legal proceedings.

"In those circumstances it would be inappropriate for me to comment any further publicly at this time except to state the following: I was asked to assist Mr Miskelly at a time when I was informed that Mr Miskelly was terminally ill. All dealings that I had with Mr Miskelly were entirely lawful, a fact that has subsequently been conceded in a further public statement by Mr Miskelly. I have been interviewed extensively by the NCA [the National Crime Agency] in relation to the 'sensational' revelations made by the BBC in its Spotlight programme. No accusation has been made that I have done anything wrong in my dealings with Mr Miskelly or with Nama.

"I believe the BBC broadcast its programme in a sensational way, designed to influence its viewers to conclude that I was guilty of criminal or improper conduct, in circumstances where it knew, or must have known, that I had been released from all bail terms a number of weeks earlier. I have consistently sought access from the BBC to the full covert recording and footage. To date this footage has not been given to me by the BBC.

"I welcome the institution of any proper inquiry in relation to the sale of the NI loan book and I would state: It was a sale that was essential for the Northern Ireland economy. I have no doubt that the sale achieved by Nama was the best price properly achievable and has allowed the Northern Ireland economy to regain some momentum following its virtual destruction with the collapse of the property market in 20008.

"Words cannot describe the devastating impact this controversy has had on my own and my wife's life and health.

"The consequential and ongoing needs to ensure that appropriate remedial and palliative care is provided for Yvonne at this difficult time adds significantly to the stressful situation for us both.

"I have been treated like a criminal by sections of the media, although few criminals would have been subject to the same onslaught I have had to endure over the past year."

Sunday Independent

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