Belfast Telegraph

Eight may face prosecution over Nama fraud allegations


By David Young

The Public Prosecution Service is considering action against eight individuals over fraud allegations in connection with Nama's Northern Ireland property portfolio.

The eight suspects - who have not been named at this stage - were investigated by the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA), which has now referred the matter to the PPS.

"The PPS can confirm a second file has been received in relation to complex fraud allegations investigated by the National Crime Agency," the PPS said yesterday

"A team of expert senior prosecutors has begun the process of considering this substantial file of evidence which relates to allegations against eight suspects.

"In the meantime, we are awaiting receipt of some further material from the NCA which is required before final decisions can issue in due course."

They are the second set of suspects to be referred to the PPS over the Nama probe.

The first file was received in March 2018 and contained two names.

According to the PPS, a decision was taken to not prosecute one of those two suspects in November 2018 after it was concluded that the evidence examined was not sufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of obtaining a conviction for any offence.

The other person reported on the March 2018 file is now under consideration as part of the second file, according to PPS sources.

In July 2015 the National Crime Agency was asked investigate the sale of Northern Ireland assets owned by the Republic of Ireland's 'toxic bank', the National Assets Management Agency (Nama).

At the time the £1.2bn transaction was the biggest property deal in Northern Ireland's history.

The NCA investigation covers:

The actual Nama NI loan book purchase and dispersal of fees offshore.

The nature, extent and probity of the relationships and roles of persons involved in the process, including allegations of corruption.

The broader Nama NI loan book portfolio sale process, including previous purchase attempts.

Offences suspected of having been committed under UK law.

Project Eagle involved the offloading of 850 properties across Ireland and the UK, based on loans made to borrowers in Northern Ireland.

The NCA investigation was sparked by the discovery of a £7m offshore transfer to an Isle of Man bank, which was controlled by a former managing partner of Belfast-based law firm Tughans.

At the time searches were carried out in Co Down in connection with the inquiry into the controversial £1.2bn sale of assets and property owned by Nama to US investment firm Cerberus.

The Nama deal has been the subject of parliamentary probes on both sides of the border.

As part of its enquiries, the NCA has been working with counterparts in Ireland, the Isle of Man and the US.

All parties involved in the 2014 deal have denied any wrongdoing.

Belfast Telegraph

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