Belfast Telegraph

Nama row: Gardai launches investigation into bribery allegations following Dail claims

By Shane Phelan and John Downing

A garda investigation has been launched following a claim by politician Mick Wallace that an unnamed Nama official sought and received a £10,000 bribe.

The move came after Nama wrote to Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan requesting that the latest allegation by the Independent TD be investigated "as a matter of urgency".

Mr Wallace told the Dáil a portfolio manager twice asked a construction firm for £10,000 "in a bag in cash" in return for being allowed to exit Nama.

"They duly obliged and all was sorted," Mr Wallace said.

The claim was one of a number of fresh allegations made by Mr Wallace.

Previous allegations by the Wexford TD relating to £7m found in the Isle of Man bank account of Belfast solicitor Ian Coulter had already sparked inquiries by the PSNI and the Northern Assembly's finance committee.

In a letter to the commissioner, Nama chief executive Brendan McDonagh said Mr Wallace had a duty under Section 19 of the Criminal Justice Act to report any evidence of criminal wrongdoing to gardaí.

"As matters stand, the allegation, if not investigated as a matter of urgency, casts a shadow over all Nama officers," wrote Mr McDonagh.

Within hours of receiving the letter, gardaí announced the claim would be probed by officers from the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation, led by Detective Chief Superintendent Patrick Lordan.

Using parliamentary privilege, Mr Wallace also questioned the role of former Department of Finance secretary general, John Moran in relation to another property transaction involving the Coroin group, which previously had a stake in Claridges, The Berkeley and The Connaught hotels in London.

The company had been central to a long running legal battle between developer Paddy McKillen and the Barclay Brothers.

"It would appear he was unnaturally interested in playing a significant role in the outcome of the Coroin group's portfolio," Mr Wallace said.

The TD also asked Taoiseach Enda Kenny whether he knew how many barristers, judges, solicitors, top-four accountancy firm partners and bankers were in syndicates linked to Nama.

He said these "had been set up by Goodman Stockbrokers, Anglo Private, Bank of Ireland Private, AIB Private, Davy, Warren and Quinlan".

Mr Wallace claimed Nama had not enforced personal guarantees given in relation these loan deals.

"Nama is responsible for some people being tossed out of their homes. It looks, however, like some of the great and good of Irish society are blessed with Nama's goodwill," he said.

The TD also questioned when Nama knew about the deposit in Mr Coulter's account. He claimed Nama knew about it last January but its chairman Frank Daly had told the Dáil Public Accounts Committee he only learned of it earlier this month.

Meanwhile, the Northern Assembly's finance committee will today hear evidence from the Law Society of Northern Ireland, which has been investigating Mr Coulter since February.

Irish Independent

Irish Independent


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