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Nama deal inquiry: Peter Robinson rejects Jamie Bryson's claims that he was to receive payment

Peter Robinson: I repeat, I neither received, expected to receive, sought, nor was I offered a single penny as a result of the NAMA sale

By Claire Williamson and Lesley-Anne McKeown

Published 23/09/2015

DUP leader Peter Robinson has rejected allegations he was to receive any payment linked to Northern Ireland's largest ever property sale.

Mr Robinson's statement comes as Deputy first minister Martin McGuinness and Jamie Bryson gave evidence today to the inquiry into the Nama sale of Stormont's finance committee's Northern Ireland loan portfolio.

Jamie Bryson, a high profile loyalist blogger and flag protester, said Peter Robinson was among five people to receive a share of a "success fee" linked to the £1.2 billion sale of assets owned by Nama (National Asset Management Agency) - the Republic's so-called bad bank.

It was voted at the beginning of September that Mr Bryson's evidence would be heard but today the finance committee had to decide whether it will be in a public or private session.

<< Peter Robinson response: statement in full >>

Allegations of political kickbacks in connection with the deal are being investigated by the National Crime Agency (NCA).

The NCA probe was prompted by claims made in the Dail by Independent TD Mick Wallace, who alleged £7m in an Isle of Man account had been earmarked for a Northern Ireland politician or party.

On Wednesday the decision was taken to a vote and it was decided that Mr Bryson's evidence be heard in public.

Members of the DUP opposed holding an open session.

Mr Robinson, who has always vehemently denied wrongdoing in relation to the Nama deal, has temporarily stood aside as first minister to facilitate talks to resolve a political crisis at the devolved Assembly.

As a result of this morning's session the DUP leader will be called to give evidence.

In response to the allegations Mr Robinson said he never "received" nor "expected to receive" a "single penny" as a result of the NAMA sale.

He said: “I repeat, I neither received, expected to receive, sought, nor was I offered a single penny as a result of the NAMA sale.

"The allegations made today lack credibility and can have no evidential basis.

"The scripted performance was little short of pantomime. It is outrageous that such scurrilous and unfounded allegations can be made without providing one iota of evidence.

"I am happy to appear before the committee.”

In evidence given to the finance committee at Parliament Buildings in Belfast, Mr Bryson made a series of explosive allegations and said his sources included "whistleblowers".

He said: "This was a success fee that was to be paid in to a dormant Danske Bank account in the Donegal Square West branch (in Belfast) and from there it was transferred to an off-shore account.

"There were to be a number of beneficiaries to this fee and I will refer to them simply as person A, person B, person C, person D and person E.

"I can now tell this committee without fear of contradiction that person A is Mr Peter Robinson MLA, person B is (developer) Mr Andrew Creighton, person C is (accountant) Mr David Watters, person D is (ex Nama adviser) Mr Frank Cushnahan and person E is (solicitor) Ian Coulter."

Political watchdogs either side of the Irish border are examining the sale of the huge Northern Ireland property portfolio of Nama which was set up by the Irish government to deal with at-risk loans.

All parties involved in the transaction have vehemently denied acting unlawfully.

Mr Robinson has consistently denied that he, his party or anyone in his family was to benefit.

Throughout the hearing, DUP MLAs challenged the validity of Mr Bryson's evidence.

Protesting that it should have been heard behind closed doors and a transcript published at a later date, South Down MLA Jim Wells said: "Here we have no direct evidence from Mr Bryson.

"He has now moved on to make extremely serious allegations and all he has is hearsay and his opinion."

Mr Bryson hit back saying he stood over his allegations "110%".

"I believe I have demonstrated a clear web of individuals, including politicians, who have contrived and conspired together to get things done and increase their own bank balances by a nod and a wink schemes," he said.

The loyalist added he would rather go to jail than reveal his sources.

He said: "I am giving relevant information to this committee which sources, extremely close and involved in this nefarious deal, have provided to me as whistleblowers.

"I am not in a position to breach somebody's confidence before this committee."

Before Mr Bryson gave evidence ,Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness was before the committee.

The Sinn Fein MLA said he had been "kept in the dark" regarding a meeting at Stormont Castle between DUP ministers and former US vice president Dan Quayle and that an important memorandum of understanding document was sent to the authorities in Dublin without his consent.

He said Mr Robinson had "very serious questions" to answer about what capacity he was acting in with regard to the loan sale.

Mr McGuinness said any suggestion he was "fully briefed" on the Nama issue is "totally wrong".

He said: "I was gobsmacked when I heard the accusations that came from the Dail."

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Live updates as committee vote to hear Jamie Bryson's evidence in public session

Chair Daithi McKay reiterates need for Peter Robinson to attend inquiry.

Motivation for evidence

"The evidence is here, the links are here. And you can see it's factual and accounts to back it up."

"It's no secret that I have no time for the DUP but I'm here to provide evidence."

Mr Bryson asked will he reveal sources

"I will go to jail before I breach that confidence"

"I'm not a journalist but courts don't demand that a journalist reveals a source .I'm not going to do that."

Have you been challenged legally?

No. I have published numerous allegations based on information in my sources and nobody has commences legal action towards me.

When asked why did your sources come to you?

Call for Mr Bryson to "robustly demonstrate" claims

Judith Cochrane asks Mr Bryson to "robustly demonstrate" that Peter Robinson was one of five earmarked to get £7m fee.

Mr Bryson claims "Peter Robinson was among five people who were to receive a payment" as result of Nama deal

Mr Bryson alleges £7.5m offshore funds were due for Peter Robinson, Andrew Creighton,  Frank Cushnahan, David Watters and Ian Coulter

Mr Robinson has previously denied he was to benefit.

Jamie Bryson: "It does appear particular property developers are getting favourable treatment.

"I'm not about to forensically make allegations towards the committee."

Mr Bryson says there are "Serious questions to be answered."

Mr Bryson calls for the committee to "robustly interrogate this evidence".

"I'm not seeking to hide behind privilege today."

Mr Bryson discussing developer Paddy Kearney

Mr Bryson continues with discussing the Project Eagle sales process

Alliance MLA Judith Cochrane suggests questioning  but evidence continues.

Mr Bryson says as a matter of public record Mr Bryson notes that Ian Coulter, is now a director at various Lagan firms.

Mr Bryson said businessman and developer Paddy Kearney is about to buy the Millmount development in Dundonald .

2015-09-17_new_12922488_I3.JPG  

Committee vote to hear Jamie Bryson's evidence in public

Jamie Bryson gives overview of what he will say and how it relates to the Committee's terms of reference

Jamie Bryson threatens judicial review if he's not heard in public

Committee deliberating over whether to hear Jamie Bryson's evidence in public or closed session

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Martin McGuinness gives evidence

Committee agree Peter Robinson is to be called to give evidence

Committee Chair Daithi McKay says it's "clearer than ever" that Peter Robinson must be invited

People at heart of Nama investigation "no friends of mine"

Jim Wells tells Mr McGuinness "I ask the questions you do the answering"

Mr McGuinness tells Jim Wells "don't be a smart alec"

Deputy First Minister says he knows nothing of being invited to a meeting that day

Jim Wells says Martin McGuinness was invited to a meeting with Cerberus on April 10 last year but could not attend because he was dining with the Queen

Memorandum of Understanding "not seen" by Mr McGuinness

I never saw any memorandum of understanding.

I'm not accusing anybody of lying. We clearly have the remarks made by former minister Hamilton and people now have because of my testimony to this committee, my refuttal of the assertion that I was fully brief or fully engaged in the process.

DFM says "not true" that MOU was discussed with him

DFM says he was never shown Nama document sent

DUP Jim Wells says disputed Nama Memorandum of Understand was copied to senior SF advisor Dara O'Hagan.

DFM says he "can't get his head around" why Peter Robinson didn't tell him that a former US VP had visited Stormont earlier in the day. Calls it "incredible"

"I have written to Finance Minister outlining my view that the Minister of Finance did not respect the office of OFMDFM."

Martin McGuinness tells inquiry he has never met TD Mick Wallace. He passed him once while canvassing but "he didn't even say hello"

"Not casting aspersions"

Mr McGuinness said the purpose of him being at the inquiry hearing today is to "put into the public domain with regards myself".

He said: "The purpose of me coming here was to deal with what was put into the public domain with regards myself.

"All I can do is provide as best I can a factual account of the situation as it pertains to  mysefl.f And I think at the end of the day other people can draw their own conclusions from it. I'm not casting any aspersions on anyone.

DFM,says he regards it as "very serious" that former US vice president Dan Quayle had meeting with First Minister and Finance Minister and Ian Coulter without his knowledge

"I'm not here to discuss the ongoing negotiations taking place elsewhere on this estate.

"It is possible to deal with an issue and for the First Minister to be present there. But it's important that if he is there without my knowledge he is there as the leader of the DUP."

"Kept in the dark"

DFM Mr McGuinness says any suggestion he was "fully briefed" on the Nama issue totally wrong.

He said: "I was gobsmacked when I heard the accusations that came from the Dail.

"I'm not accusing the First Minister of telling lies. OFMDFM is supposed to be a joint office. Officials told me as a result of their searches there is no paper trail that he was "fully briefed"

DFM says there are "very serious questions" about what capacity Peter Robinson was acting in RE Nama deal

DFP committee unanimously backs hearing deputy first minister Martin McGuinness evidence in open session.

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