Tuesday 21 May 2019

Wallace names two arrested in Nama NI probe

Independent TD Mick Wallace Photo: Tom Burke
Independent TD Mick Wallace Photo: Tom Burke
Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

Independent TD Mick Wallace has warned of "huge repercussions" for Nama following the arrest of one of its most senior officials by the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA).

Speaking in the Dail on Thursday, Mr Wallace used parliamentary privilege to name Nama's former Head of Asset Recovery, Ronnie Hanna, who was held for questioning alongside businessman Frank Cushnahan as part of the NCA's ongoing investigation into Project Eagle, the deal that saw US private equity giant Cerberus snap up Nama's Northern Ireland loan book for €1.6bn.

Noting that nobody in government appeared to be "even remotely concerned" by the fact that Mr Hanna and Mr Cushnahan - a former member of Nama's Northern Ireland Advisory Committee - had been arrested two weeks ago as part of the NCA's fraud investigation, the Wexford TD described Nama's silence on the arrests as "mind-boggling".

While Mr Wallace added that "I am not saying we shoot the two individuals", he said it was time the Government decided to "check things out" in relation to the Project Eagle deal, rather than leaving the investigations to be conducted by authorities in Northern Ireland and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the United States.

Referring to Mr Hanna specifically, he said: "During his employment at Nama as Head of Asset Recovery, how many connections [borrowers] did Mr Hanna approve enforcement against?

"If it has been found that he has not behaved quite how he should have, it has huge repercussions for all the transactions in which he was involved with Nama. It is important that we look at this sooner rather than later."

Commenting on Cerberus' overall acquisition of €12.5bn in property debt, he asked what would happen to all the deals it had done in the Republic of Ireland if it was found to have "behaved badly in Project Eagle".

While all parties involved in the 2014 transaction that saw Nama's Northern Ireland €5.6bn par value portfolio sold to Cerberus for €1.6bn have denied any wrongdoing, the controversy has continued to dog Nama as it continues its disposal of its multi-billion euro loan book.

Sunday Independent

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