Belfast Telegraph

Nama invited to appear before Dail committee over £1bn Project Eagle

By Noel McAdam

The Republic of Ireland's finance committee is to summon Nama for questioning following fresh allegations surrounding the sale of the body's Northern Ireland portfolio.

A BBC Spotlight programme on Tuesday broadcast claims that businessman Frank Cushnahan, who has been at the centre of the £1bn deal controversy, was recorded accepting a £40,000 cash payment from a Nama borrower.

The recording was made in 2012 at a time when Mr Cushnahan was still working as an adviser to the organisation.

The payment was made by the Co Down property developer John Miskelly during a meeting in a hospital car park.

Mr Miskelly said: "Payments made by me to any persons have been lawful."

Mr Cushnahan also denied any wrongdoing and told the BBC's Spotlight programme he would be providing no further responses because of an ongoing National Crime Agency probe.

John McGuinness, the chairman of the Republic's finance committee, said Nama had been invited to appear before the oversight body and answer questions about the controversial sale of the portfolio.

"My strong belief is that until such time as both governments decide on a commission of inquiry, we will not get to the bottom of this," added Mr McGuinness. "There are two jurisdictions involved, and it's very complicated. Clearly, Nama have questions to answer."

The development came as Stormont's main opposition party demanded the new Assembly term should open with a debate over the allegations.

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt's party tabled a request for the issue to be top of the agenda, as a "matter of the day", when MLAs return from their summer break for the first plenary session on Monday.

Former Nama adviser Mr Cushnahan was accused last year in a previous BBC Spotlight probe of receiving an illegal fixer's fee for arranging the sale of the Northern Ireland property portfolio to the American vulture fund Cerberus.

Mr Cushnahan has consistently denied that he was due to receive money.

On Tuesday evening, a further BBC Spotlight investigation broadcast secret recordings of meetings between Mr Cushnahan and property developer Mr Miskelly.

Both men have denied any wrongdoing.

Nama is the Republic of Ireland's so-called bad bank, which was established in 2009 in the aftermath of the country's banking crisis.

Belfast Telegraph


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