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'Explosive evidence' on Nama and Northern Ireland politicians due due in weeks

By Brian Hutton

Published 15/06/2016

Micheal Martin
Micheal Martin

Evidence linking politicians in Northern Ireland to a massive property deal allegedly involving multimillion-pound fixer fees could emerge in the coming weeks, the Irish parliament was told yesterday.

Micheal Martin, leader of the chief opposition party Fianna Fail, said the Dublin government's position on the £1.2bn sale of a Northern Ireland property loan portfolio by a State agency in the Republic was becoming more and more untenable by the day.

The deal two years ago by the National Assets Management Agency (Nama) with US investment giant Cerberus has been dogged by controversy since £7m allegedly linked to it was found in an Isle of Man bank account.

Separate investigations have been launched by the UK's National Crime Agency, the US Department of Justice's Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as a parliamentary inquiry in Stormont.

But Taoiseach Enda Kenny has repeatedly rejected calls for an Irish State inquiry into the so-called Project Eagle sale.

Mr Martin said the "nothing to see here" attitude in Dublin was incredible.

"As revelations emerge, and as the levels of the investigations get deeper, the Government's position in relation to the sale of Project Eagle by Nama is, in my view, more untenable by the day," he added.

Mr Martin also claimed there were huge ethical questions over the sale of the portfolio.

"The deal is tainted - of that there can be no question," he told the Irish Parliament, the Dail.

"There seems to be a sense of a connection, of a nexus, between politics and all of this in the North as well. That may emerge in the coming weeks."

But Mr Kenny denied the Irish government was being defensive about the deal and called for evidence to be presented that a fair process was not followed.

"I'm informed that this loan sale was executed in a proper manner," he said. "Despite all the comments and allegations, there are no claims of wrongdoing against Nama.

"That loan portfolio was sold after an open process to the highest bidder for what it was worth.

"Nama paid no monies to any party against whom allegations of wrongdoing are being made."

Two men who were arrested last month in Co Down as part of the National Crime Agency investigation were subsequently released on bail.

Nama is the so-called "bad bank" set up in Ireland at the height of the financial crisis to take property linked loans off the books of bailed-out banks.

It sold 800 property loans to Cerberus, a multibillion fund that boasts former US vice president Dan Quayle among its associates.

The £7m was paid into an account controlled by a former managing partner of Belfast-based law firm Tughans who resigned after it was unearthed.

Tughans, which was involved in the Nama transaction as subcontractor for Cerberus's US lawyers Brown Rudnick, insisted it was not aware of the transfer.

All parties involved in the £1.2bn transaction in 2014 have denied wrongdoing.

Belfast Telegraph

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