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TD Mick Wallace could face Stormont quiz over '£7m pay-off for politician' claim


Mick Wallace

Mick Wallace

Mick Wallace

A TD who claimed a £7m pay-off had been set aside for a Northern Ireland politician could face a Stormont grilling.

Daithi McKay said he intended to call Mick Wallace before the Assembly committee he chairs over allegations he made in the Dail.

Mr Wallace named law firm Tughans as having acted for Cerberus, which bought the Nama portfolio in Northern Ireland.

He alleged "a routine audit showed that £7m ended up in an Isle of Man bank account".

The independent TD added: "It was reportedly earmarked for a Northern Ireland politician."

Tughans has denied any wrongdoing, saying the practice is not linked to any political party and that it has not made any political donations.

It did, however, confirm that a former partner - understood to be ex-managing director Ian Coulter - did divert money into a bank account. He has since left the company.

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Yesterday calls were growing for a full probe into the claims.

First Minister Peter Robinson said such stories "damage politics". "Those with information should give it to the authorities to test its credibility in a thorough investigation," he added. Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness called for an immediate and full police probe.

Mr Wallace could now be called before the Assembly's finance committee to elaborate on his comments.

Mr McKay, who chairs the committee, said he intended to convene an emergency sitting to consider its response to the allegations.

Officials from Cerberus, the US investment firm that bought Nama's Northern Ireland portfolio, could be brought before the committee too.

Mr McKay backed up claims Mr Wallace may be asked to appear. "I would intend to call on Nama officials and Mick Wallace to appear before the committee and the law firm involved to elaborate on their recent statements on the matter," he said.

Justice Minister David Ford said anyone with evidence of criminal wrongdoing should report it to police.

"This allegation is of the utmost seriousness," he added. "If Mr Wallace has something to report, I would encourage him to bring it forward to An Garda Siochana and the PSNI, and allow them to investigate thoroughly.

A Cerberus official said: "We are not and never have been a client of Tughans. We want to make it clear that no improper or illegal fees were paid by us or on our behalf, and we take any allegation to the contrary extremely seriously."

The PSNI said nothing had been reported over the claims.

Tughans said: "Tughans' duties of confidentiality to its clients are absolute and we do not comment on internal affairs. In response to the comments made in the Dail, we can confirm, however, that a former partner diverted to an account of which he was the sole beneficiary, professional fees due to the firm without the knowledge of the partners. We have since retrieved the money and he has left the practice. The practice is not linked to any political party nor has it ever made party political donations. Tughans reported the circumstances of the departure of the former partner to the Law Society."

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