Wednesday 18 September 2019

Nama deal corruption claims untrue - Maple 10 developer

Paddy Kearney
Paddy Kearney
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

A property developer who was part of a 'golden circle' of Anglo Irish Bank borrowers has denied acting corruptly in connection with the sale of Nama's northern loan portfolio.

Belfast-businessman Paddy Kearney, one of the Maple 10 borrowers, told a parliamentary inquiry that allegations made against him were "unsubstantiated" and "a fiction".

Mr Kearney, whose Anglo loans were in the Project Eagle portfolio, admitted he met with two central figures in the controversy over the sale of the loans to US vulture fund Cerberus for €1.6bn last year.

He said solicitor Ian Coulter and former Nama advisor Frank Cushnahan told him they were acting for one of the bidders and were seeking "private information". Mr Kearney told the Stormont committee investigating the deal he agreed to meet them, but ultimately did not give them any information.

The developer also said there was "nothing sinister" in contacts he had with the North's First Minister, Peter Robinson, regarding Nama.

The DUP leader wrote to Nama on Mr Kearney's behalf in May 2013 urging the agency to meet with the developer.

Mr Kearney said he reached out to Mr Robinson as he believed Nama was going to collapse his business.

He claimed the agency had "lied" to him, an allegation rejected by Nama.

Mr Kearney was one of Anglo's main clients in the North during the boom years and his PBN Holdings company has extensive property interests in Northern Ireland and Britain.

Referring to claims made by political blogger Jamie Bryson at an inquiry hearing in September, Mr Kearney said: "Past testimony alleged I was some way involved with others in manipulating in a criminal, corrupt manner the sale and purchase of the Northern Ireland Nama loan book, resulting in what has been termed a sweetheart deal for myself and my company from Cerberus.

"These allegations are totally unfounded and unsubstantiated. I can categorically state I did not receive any preferential treatment from Cerberus or Nama in any shape or form."

The Stormont inquiry was launched in July after Independent TD Mick Wallace alleged Stg£7m in an Isle of Man bank account had been earmarked for a northern politician or party.

A criminal probe was also launched by the UK's National Crime Agency.

It emerged the money was diverted to the account on the instructions of Mr Coulter, whose law firm worked for Cerberus on the deal.

It also emerged Mr Cushnahan had stood to earn Stg£5m had another bidder for the portfolio, Pimco, been successful.

Both Mr Coulter and Mr Cushnahan have denied any wrongdoing. Mr Robinson has also denied speculation he was due to benefit from the deal.

Mr Kearney was one of 10 Anglo customers - known as the Maple 10 - given illegal loans to buy its shares. Two former Anglo executives were subsequently convicted over their involvement in the scheme.

Irish Independent

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