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US fund in Nama deal set to appear at Stormont inquiry

By Shane Phelan

Published 13/08/2015

Mick Wallace, independent TD for Wexford
Mick Wallace, independent TD for Wexford

The US vulture fund at the centre of the controversy over the sale of Nama's Northern Ireland property portfolio has agreed to appear before a Stormont inquiry.

Officials from Cerberus Capital Management, which bought the portfolio for £1.24bn last year, have committed to giving evidence at the Assembly's committee on finance and personnel in the coming weeks.

The move is significant as the committee's inquiry has been dogged by the refusal of key players, including a senior civil servant and Nama, to appear before it.

The private equity firm had originally been due to brief the committee in private next month and had expressed reservations about discussing commercially sensitive issues in public.

However, an extra public session is now expected to focus on allegations by Irish TD Mick Wallace of planned kickback payments related to the sale of the portfolio, codenamed Project Eagle.

Mr Wallace claimed £7m in an Isle of Man bank account had been earmarked for a Northern Ireland politician or party.

Belfast solicitor Ian Coulter, who was retained by Cerberus's law firm, Brown Rudnick, in connection with the deal, confirmed that the money had been in an account under his control.

However, he denied any impropriety and said he would explain the transaction to "the appropriate authorities".

A spokesman for Cerberus said the company had "nothing to hide" over the deal and was happy to appear before the committee. The company had previously stated it was deeply concerned by Mr Wallace's claims and did not tolerate "inappropriate actions such as the ones that have been alleged".

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