Belfast Telegraph

Deal has the man whose claims rocked corridors of power eating humble pie... but only for a while

By Margaret Canning

Today's statement from Gareth Graham to US vulture fund Cerberus will be greeted with a certain amount of surprise in some quarters.

The worlds of property, law and government have all been sucked into the scandal that followed the sale of Nama's Northern Ireland portfolio of loans in 2014.

And as someone who has both dealt with Cerberus from a business point of view, and who had earlier dealings with Frank Cushnahan - a key figure in the Project Eagle affair - Mr Graham's opinions have been highly sought-after, and his evidence to the Stormont finance committee in September was eagerly reported.

One source said Mr Graham was likely to be viewing the apology in a pragmatic way.

"He's having to eat humble pie, but probably in the grand scheme of things it's just a day or two of pain, but he is getting his properties back," they added

"In the long-term, this probably is a good outcome."

Mr Graham had started legal action against Cerberus in July to get control back over his companies.

Cerberus had appointed administrators to his companies Fernhill Properties, Lehill Properties Ltd, AD Enterprises and STH 500 between March and May last year.

The court hearings had continued until January this year, when the Commercial Court judge advised both sides to consider a course of mediation.

Now, Mr Graham's advertisement reveals that the mediation process has come to an end.

The businessman says that the legal proceedings "have been resolved to the full satisfaction of all parties" involved.

It is understood that Mr Graham has regained control of his businesses - and that a public retraction of the statements he previously made will have been a condition of his return to the helm.

Brian Speers, a former president of the Law Society and managing partner of CMG Solicitors, has championed mediation as a means of resolving legal disputes.

He said mediation can offer more creative solutions than courts which are more palatable to the parties than might otherwise be the case.

"The parties have to agree to it and it's not a court order," he added. "It's not about finding fault or an allocation of blame, but it's what they'll do to bring matters to a complete close."

Conor Devine, a principal at property advice partnership GDP, which advises businesspeople whose loans have been sold by banks, said: "From both points of view, this is a good arrangement as they can come to an agreement and move on with life."

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