Wednesday 22 November 2017

Lawyer 'received no benefit' from Nama deal - Coulter denies Nama deal cash destined for politician

Independent TD Mick Wallace
Independent TD Mick Wallace
John Downing

John Downing

A lawyer who transferred money from a massive property deal into his own account has denied it was intended for any politician.

Ian Coulter's Belfast-based law firm was involved in the £1.1bn sale of Nama's Northern Ireland assets to US investment firm Cerberus last year.

Allegations about the deal were levelled in the Dáil recently by Independent TD Mick Wallace - and he is expected to again raise the matter today.

Using parliamentary privilege, Mr Wallace alleged £7m in an Isle of Man account linked to the deal was "reportedly earmarked for a Northern Ireland politician or political party".

But yesterday Mr Coulter said: "No politician, nor any relative of any politician in Northern Ireland, was ever to receive any monies in any way as part of this deal. This was never discussed, assumed nor expected."

He was the managing partner in Tughans law firm but resigned in January this year. He said he received no personal financial benefit from his work on the transaction or any of the £7.5m fees.

"The fees payable were paid into a Tughans company account supervised by the firm's finance team.

"In September 2014, a portion of the fees was retained by Tughans and I instructed Tughans' finance director to transfer the remaining portion into an external account which was controlled only by me. Not a penny of this money was touched.

"The reason for the transfer is a complex, commercially and legally sensitive issue and has been explained to my former partners at Tughans.

"It will be explained to the appropriate authorities and those entitled to that information as part of my continuing co-operation with any investigation."

His comments came as Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the PSNI should be told about allegations of wrong-doing in the Nama sale of its Northern Ireland loan portfolio.

Speaking during Leaders' Questions, Mr Kenny said that anybody with evidence of illegality or criminality should bring it to the PSNI's attention but there was no evidence of any wrong-doing by Nama.

"The remit of Nama is to return a profit for the taxpayer in respect of the sales of the portfolios it has, which is very extensive," the Taoiseach said.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin renewed his demand for a commission of investigation to be established to examine the issue.

And Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said financial investors Pimco had contradicted the account given by Nama chairman, Frank Daly, that the company was asked to withdraw from the sale's process.

The Taoiseach rounded on Ms McDonald and warned that any allegations she made must be based on factual evidence.

Irish Independent

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