Tuesday 20 March 2018

PAC will not compel Wallace to appear over NAMA allegations

Mick Wallace
Mick Wallace
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

THE Public Accounts Committee (PAC) will not compel Independent TD Mick Wallace before a public hearing to discuss his allegations surrounding the sale of NAMA’s Northern Ireland loan book.

Speaking under Dail privilege, Mr Wallace claimed a legal firm involved in the sale established a secret Isle of Man bank account containing £7m earmarked for political donations.

The Northern Ireland law firm, Tughans, said the account was setup without the company’s knowledge by former managing partner Ian Coulter.

Mr Coulter has since left the firm and the money has been recovered. The firm insisted the money was not used inappropriately.

NAMA’s Northern Ireland loan book was sold to US company Cerebus Capital for €1.6bn

The PAC wrote to Mr Wallace asking him to come before the committee to discuss his allegations.


However, Mr Wallace refused - insisting he wanted an independent inquiry to investigate his claims.

The PAC held a meeting this afternoon to discuss the possibility of compelling Mr Wallace before a hearing.

Speaking after the meeting, Fine Gael Waterford TD John Deasy said the committee would not compel Mr Wallace.

“The distinct feeling from the meeting was that before we take it further we need to hear from NAMA and the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) to see if NAMA has a case to answer,” Mr Deasy told Independent.ie

“There isn’t an appetite to compel Deputy Wallace among the committee members,” he added.

However, sources said PAC chairman John McGuinness was anxious that Mr Wallace would be brought before the Committee and he was supported Limerick Fine Gael TD Patrick O’Donovan and Sligo TD John Perry.

Independent.ie understands Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, Independent TD Shane Ross, Labour’s Derek Nolan and Mr Deasy were against bringing him before the committee.

A source said some committee members wanted to avoid making Mr Wallace into a "cause celebre".

NAMA will come before the committee tomorrow to answer questions on the sale.

NAMA chairman Frank Daly and chief executive Brendan McDonagh will attend with senior officials. Department of Finance official Declan Reid will also be in attendance.

Mr McGuinness said that the committee will question NAMA on the rationale for selling the properties in one lot.

“Committee Members will be seeking assurances from NAMA officials that the return to the taxpayer was maximised in the sale of these assets,” he said in a statement.

He added: “We will explore the chain of events leading to the withdrawal of Pimco in March 2014, one of only three bidders that had made the shortlist. With just Cerebus and another bidder, the Committee will want to get an understanding of how the process worked and whether this was the optimum business approach to achieving the best possible sale price.”

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