Thursday 18 July 2019

TDs given names of suspects in Project Eagle police inquiry

The Treasury Building headquarters of Nama
The Treasury Building headquarters of Nama

Shane Phelan and Philip Ryan

TDs have been provided with the names of seven people British police believe may have committed offences in connection with the purchase of Nama's Northern Ireland loan portfolio Project Eagle.

The names were included in a dossier submitted to members of the Dáil Public Accounts Committee by Co Down property developer John Miskelly.

Mr Miskelly is himself among those named.

Also on the list is a former Northern Ireland politician and five other individuals.

The dossier, which contains hundreds of pages of documents, is expected to be discussed by TDs when the committee meets today.

The committee previously conducted an investigation into the sale, concluding the process was "seriously deficient", a criticism rejected by Nama.

However, it is unlikely to call Mr Miskelly as a witness now.

Committee members are expected to decide if the serious accusations of criminal behaviour contained in the dossier are best examined elsewhere.

The Irish Independent understands the Nama Commission, led by retired High Court judge John Cooke, intends to examine the documentation and speak with Mr Miskelly.

Nama sold the loan portfolio to US vulture fund Cerberus for €1.6bn in 2014.

But a string of revelations the following year prompted probes by the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA) and parliamentary committees on both sides of the Border.

According to the dossier, the NCA is investigating bribery, fraud, conspiracy to defraud, money laundering and attempts to pervert the course of justice.

Much of the NCA's evidence appears to be based on audio recordings provided to it by Mr Miskelly of conversations with a number of individuals.

In the dossier, he says he is now being treated as a "vulnerable suspect", but denies any wrongdoing and claims the NCA has ignored evidence of certain wrongdoing.

He has complained to the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman about the conduct of the investigation and the searching of his property.

In the complaint he alleges he was told by an NCA officer that there was political and PSNI interference in the investigation.

He has also made a series of allegations, claiming bribery and fraud took place at two financial institutions he had dealings with.

Asked about Mr Miskelly's allegations, a spokesman for the NCA said: "We are not able to comment on specific cases that are subject to on-going proceedings. We do not comment on on-going operational activity."

The spokesman said the inquiry was ongoing and that a file had recently been submitted to the Public Prosecution Service in Northern Ireland relating to some of the matters under investigation.

Irish Independent

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