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Nama treated its advisers like eejits, inquiry told

By Niall O'Connor

Published 23/11/2016

Lazard's managing director Patrick Long
Lazard's managing director Patrick Long

The firm that advised Nama on the sale of its Northern Ireland loan book was treated like an "eejit" and a "patsy" prior to the £1.2bn sale, the Republic's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has heard.

Lazard, a key player in the Project Eagle sale, was "kept in the dark" over details that were potentially highly significant to the sale.

Sinn Fein TD Mary Lou McDonald made the allegations at a parliamentary committee meeting in Dublin probing the controversial transaction.

Lazard's managing director Patrick Long accepted he and his staff were not informed of key details in relation to the transaction. These include the fact that another bidder, Pimco, pulled out of the bidding process after being asked to provide a fixer payment of £16m for three parties involved in the deal.

The money was to be shared by Belfast businessman Frank Cushnahan, US law firm Brown Rudnick and Ian Coulter, a managing partner of Belfast solicitors firm Tughans, Pimco previously told the committee.

Mr Cushnahan was formerly a Nama adviser on Northern Ireland on the recommendation of the DUP. Brown Rudnick and Tughans also advised Cerberus on the successful deal. All parties have denied any wrongdoing.

Ms McDonald claimed Mr Long and his firm "spectacularly lacked insights" as advisers. "Do you know the expression eejit? Nama made an eejit of you, a patsy," she said.

Mr Long said: "We gave the best advice we could with the knowledge we had at the time."

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