Belfast Telegraph

Frank Cushnahan broke law, Nama complaint in Republic alleges

By Dearbhail McDonald and Shane Phelan

Nama has made a complaint to the Republic’s public standards watchdog about Frank Cushnahan, a former member of the agency’s Northern Ireland advisory committee.

The complaint to the Standards in Public Office (Sipo) alleges that the 73-year-old, who is at the centre of controversy over his alleged role in the £1bn sale of the agency’s Northern Ireland loan portfolio, is in breach of the Ethics in Public Office Act 1995.

One arm of the complaint, lodged yesterday, involves Mr Cushnahan’s dealings with US Investment fund Pimco and its legal advisers, US firm Brown Rudnick, and Tughan’s, Northern Ireland’s leading commercial law firm.

Pimco entered the bidding process but pulled out in March 2014 after concerns were raised about £5m in “success fees” allegedly sought by Mr Cushnahan, who has denied he was to receive money.

Nama has also raised Mr Cushnahan’s shareholding in companies which the toxic loans agency says owed money to it.

Nama, its committees and group entities have been subject to the 1995 act since 2010, but it is unclear if Northern Ireland-based advisers fall under the law.

Mr Cushnahan is expected to mount a robust response to the Sipo complaint, according to his lawyer, Paul Tweed.

Separately, another former Nama official is to be called before a Stormont inquiry over suggestions he helped ensure the agency did not move against certain debtors.

Ronnie Hanna, Nama’s former head of asset recovery, is to be summoned to appear before the Finance and Personnel Committee, which is investigating the sale of the agency’s Northern Ireland loan portfolio.

The move follows a BBC Spotlight programme which featured a covert recording in which it was suggested that Mr Hanna “prevented people’s lights going out”.

The comment was made by Mr Cushnahan in a conversation with developer John Miskelly, whose loans were previously in Nama. Yesterday, MLAs resolved to invite Mr Hanna and public relations executive Gareth Robinson, son of former First Minister Peter Robinson, to give evidence.

In the recording, Mr Miskelly expressed his belief that Mr Robinson, Mr Cushnahan and Mr Hanna helped protect him from having his “lights put out” by Nama.

He has also been called to give evidence to the inquiry, as has accountant David Gray, who was present for the conversation.

Mr Hanna, a former bank official, has yet to comment. He left the agency in late 2014 and now runs a consultancy business in Northern Ireland.

Mr Robinson did not respond when contacted at his public relations firm. Mr Cushnahan has also not commented.

Belfast Telegraph


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