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Dail wants Peter Robinson to attend Nama meeting

Published 22/09/2016

Former First Minister Peter Robinson
Former First Minister Peter Robinson

Former First Minister Peter Robinson will be invited to appear before a powerful Irish parliamentary committee to be quizzed on Project Eagle.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness is also to be asked to attend a meeting of the Dail's Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which is probing the deal to sell Nama's Northern Ireland loan book.

Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness were participants in a 2014 phone call with Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan in which the controversial deal was discussed.

In a statement Sinn Fein said Mr McGuinness "will cooperate fully with all efforts to uncover the truth around the Project Eagle sale and the wider issues relating to Nama".

The DUP did not respond to a request for comment on whether Mr Robinson would appear.

The PAC chairman, Fianna Fail's Sean Fleming, also confirmed that the date that Mr Noonan has agreed to appear before committee members is October 6, just days before he announces his Budget.

Mr Fleming outlined the agenda of the PAC's examination of the Irish Comptroller and Auditor General's (C&AG) damning report on Project Eagle. The C&AG found that Nama incurred a potential loss to the Irish taxpayer of £190m in the Project Eagle sale.

The auditor's report added that Nama had undervalued loans associated with the 800 properties.

It also warned that alarm bells should have sounded after US investors Pimco, one of the final three investment firms in the bidding war for the deal, alerted Nama to a "success fee" payment of £15-16m for three parties behind the scenes and pulled out of the process.

Nama rejected the C&AG's findings - claiming an incorrect assumption of the discount rate used in the sale, and that the probe was carried out by staff with no market experience of loan sales.

Mr Fleming said that the C&AG will appear at the committee on September 29, as will Nama chairman Frank Daly and chief executive Brendan McDonagh.

"Also we are going to invite people who are involved in the phone call with Minister Noonan in early January 2014," Mr Fleming announced.

He said this included Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness.

Both Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein are demanding to know whether Mr Noonan could have intervened prior to the sale of the €1.6bn Northern loan book.

Belfast Telegraph

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