Belfast Telegraph

Frank Cushnahan 'intent on destroying businesses', Stormont committee hears

A Nama adviser "was intent on destroying" businesses whose loans were sold by the Republic's bad bank, a former associate has claimed.

Frank Cushnahan worked for businessman Gareth Graham from 2005.

Mr Cushnahan has previously issued a statement denying any wrongdoing and said he ended his involvement as a director seven years ago.

Mr Cushnahan was later appointed to work with Nama on selling its Northern Ireland properties and his role is under scrutiny by a Stormont watchdog.

Mr Graham claimed: "I know from his telephone calls that he was intent on destroying our businesses after he left and while he was in post as our company chairman he had already started to impugn and ruin our reputation."

He alleged he had taped phone calls made by Mr Cushnahan and claimed his firms were wrongly taken into Nama following his former colleague's "malevolent" influence.

He said he has hundreds of hours of tapes showing an "ingrained culture of inappropriate and possibly illegal conduct" across political, banking, legal and accountancy sectors.

"Frank Cushnahan said 'thank God I am worth a good few quid shareholdings will be worth sweet f*** all by the time I am finished'."

Mr Graham, a member of the Sean Graham bookmaker family, told Stormont's finance committee Mr Cushnahan had retained a 5% stake in his property companies.

He added: "I consider that the reason that Bank of Ireland took such a harsh view of us is because of Frank Cushnahan's malevolent influence."

He claimed Cerberus, the US investment firm which bought Nama loans in Northern Ireland, had been "ruthless, unjust and unreasonable" in demanding repayments of £33 million within 24 hours following a series of brief meetings.

Cerberus then appointed administrators and receivers to his companies.

Mr Graham is fighting a High Court battle in an attempt to win back control of his firms.

He told the committee his firm should not have been placed in Nama, although he acknowledged that he had not been badly treated by the state-owned bank, and added £19 million had been repaid.

"There has been a criminal conspiracy against my company and my family, we are in the process of formulating a criminal complaint," he said.

Stormont's finance and personnel committee has been investigating the Nama deal.

Mick Wallace TD has said that a Northern Ireland politician was in line for a £7 million payment because of the transaction.

The committee has been limited in the questions it can ask as events surrounding the loan sale are being investigated by police.

A spokesman for Cerberus said: "Cerberus treats every borrower fairly and consistently. Consensual resolutions account for the vast majority of our outcomes and are always our preferred route."


From Belfast Telegraph