Belfast Telegraph

Bidders for Nama loans told not to pay 'fixers'

By Shane Phelan

Nama loan portfolio bidders have been asked to make declarations they will avoid paying success fees to anyone linked to the agency.

The move was taken after revelations a former Nama adviser, Frank Cushnahan, was in line for a £5m fee from the sale of Nama's Northern Ireland loans portfolio.

Nama chairman Frank Daly denied the sale was corrupt, but said measures had been taken to ensure prospective buyers did not pay Nama-linked people. He added that the agency now sought declarations confirming this.

According to the chairman, the first time the declaration was sought was when Cerberus bought the Project Eagle portfolio for €1.6bn. Nama was criticised for proceeding with the sale after learning of proposals for a rival bidder, Pimco, to pay a success fee to Mr Cushnahan.

Public Accounts Committee vice chairman John Deasy said: "I think there is an acceptance that Nama's proceeding with the sale acted as an invitation to anyone who has an issue to hammer them. Requiring a declaration from prospective bidders should stop this ever happening again."

Mr Cushnahan, a former banker, was a member of Nama's northern advisory committee until November 2013. Four months later, according to Mr Daly, Pimco's compliance department indicated that a success fee was to be payable to Mr Cushnahan. He said Nama told Pimco it could not continue in the process and should withdraw, which it did.

However, Pimco said its decision to withdraw was because of concerns relating to the third parties. In a statement, it said parties "seeking to act as brokers proposed an acquisition fee due if the potential transaction successfully completed". It said the fee was not proposed by Pimco, that it did not agree with it, and raised concerns about it to Nama prior to withdrawing.

Belfast Telegraph

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