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Frank Cushnahan 'did not make a penny' out of Nama loan deal

Published 19/09/2016

Statement: Frank Cushnahan
Statement: Frank Cushnahan

The central figure in the Nama controversy has broken his silence to claim he did not "make a penny" from a series of property transactions being investigated on both sides of the border - and by the FBI.

Former Nama adviser Frank Cushnahan also claims recordings of him allegedly receiving £40,000 cash from a Nama borrower "infringed his privacy".

It is the first time Mr Cushnahan has publicly responded to a series of allegations about his role in the sale of Nama's Northern Ireland loan book, known as Project Eagle.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has ordered an inquiry into the sale of that portfolio after an investigation by the Comptroller & Auditor General published last week found that Nama, the Republic's so-called bad bank, incurred a potential loss to the Irish taxpayer of €223m from the sale. In a damning report, C&AG Seamus McCarthy raised questions over how the portfolio, at the time the biggest property sale in Irish history, was valued and marketed. He also criticised Nama's failure to take more action when it learned Mr Cushnahan allegedly stood to be paid €5m by one of the bidders.

However, Mr Cushnahan rejected the claims that in the event of the purchase by Pimco he was to receive €5m. "I was never a party to any such agreement," he said.

Mr Cushnahan claimed he had been treated like a "criminal" and that he was innocent.

The BBC Spotlight programme broadcast secret recordings of a meeting between Mr Cushnahan and a Co Down-based Nama borrower, John Miskelly, that allegedly took place in a Jaguar car in 2012.

"There's £40,000 in that and it's in bundles of two, Frank," Mr Miskelly is recorded as saying.

Mr Cushnahan was advising Nama at the time the recording was made and was reappointed to the advisory board the same year.

Project Eagle has been dogged by scandal for more than a year. US company Cerberus bought the portfolio in April 2014 for about €1.6bn.

It later emerged that the managing partner of a firm of Belfast solicitors that had worked for Cerberus transferred £6m in fees from the deal to an Isle of Man bank account without his firm's knowledge. He resigned once it was discovered.

Later Mr Cushnahan, a former member of Nama's Northern Ireland advisory committee, was recorded claiming that the £6m was meant for him.

Mr Cushnahan did not directly address that recorded claim but reiterated that he did not benefit financially from the Project Eagle sale in any way.

Writing in the Sunday Independent, Mr Cushnahan rejected all claims of wrongdoing: "I have been treated like a criminal by sections of the media, although few criminals would have been subject to the same onslaught I have had to endure over the past year."

Mr Cushnahan failed to address the recordings which appear to show him accepting £40,000 cash in a brown paper bag in a hospital car park in 2012 from Mr Miskelly. He said he was talking to lawyers about taking legal action against the BBC.

He claimed that the meeting occurred when he was asked to assist Mr Miskelly "at a time when I was informed that Mr Miskelly was terminally ill".

In the recording the men are then heard discussing the payment and Mr Miskelly assures Mr Cushnahan no one else knows about the meeting. The programme claims Mr Cushnahan said he would use his "insider status" to help ease Mr Miskelly's financial problems.

Mr Cushnahan admitted it was his "understanding" that, had the initial sale gone through and Pimco purchased the Project Eagle loan book, there was "a possibility he would have been appointed by (US company) Pimco to an executive role with appropriate remuneration".

He also stressed that he was not a "public servant in the Republic of Ireland" and, as an adviser to Nama, he was paid the sum of €5,000 per year "as an honorarium".

Frank Cushnahan: Statement in full  

Belfast Telegraph

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