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Law Society calls for evidence to be handed to police

By Adrian Rutherford

Published 08/07/2015

Mick Wallace TD
Mick Wallace TD

The Law Society has called for any evidence about the sale of Nama's Northern Ireland property portfolio to be passed to police.

In its first public statement on the matter, the society said it would co-operate with any police inquiry.

Ian Coulter - a former managing partner of law firm Tughans - allegedly diverted funds to an Isle of Man bank account.

He resigned from the firm after the matter came to light.

However, Mr Coulter remains on the roll of solicitors in Northern Ireland and therefore remains subject to the Regulations of the Law Society of Northern Ireland.

In a statement, the Law Society said: "In January 2015, following a self-report made by Tughans, the Law Society commenced an inquiry into the circumstances which led to the resignation of Ian Coulter from Tughans.

"The Law Society has satisfied itself that any funds in question are secure while the investigation is ongoing.

"The inquiry has been conducted in accordance with procedures designed to ensure the proper discharge of the Law Society's regulatory duties.

"These procedures are to safeguard the public interest. It is critical to protect the integrity of any investigation and fairness to all parties.

"The Law Society does not have a wider remit to investigate individuals who are not solicitors."

The statement urged anyone with relevant information on the matter to contact police.

"The Law Society calls for independent TD Mick Wallace or any other person with relevant information, to make available to the PSNI and Garda Siochana all information or evidence he has to substantiate the new and serious allegations made by him in the Dail," it said.

"Matters pertaining to the improper conduct of a solicitor or solicitors should also be provided to the Law Society.

"The Law Society will co-operate with any police investigation into these new and serious allegations which are beyond the remit of the Law Society's powers.

"Upon conclusion of its inquiry, the Law Society shall take such action as is appropriate which may include referral to the independent solicitors' disciplinary tribunal empowered to impose financial penalties and/or striking off solicitors from the roll of solicitors."

The PSNI confirmed yesterday that it is still not investigating the allegations - five days after they were made in the Dail.

A spokesman said: "At this stage there is no formal criminal investigation by PSNI."

TUV leader Jim Allister has written to Chief Constable George Hamilton to request a police probe.

Mr Allister said he was surprised at the lack of an investigation given the "disturbing allegations" in the public domain. He urges Mr Hamilton to "ensure the PSNI takes an appropriate and active interest in these significant matters".

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