Belfast Telegraph

TD Wallace '100% certain' Nama £7m was for politician in Northern Ireland

By Michael McHugh

Allegations that a Northern Ireland politician was to benefit from £7m in an offshore account linked to a controversial property deal are "100%" certain, the Dail has been told.

Independent TD Mick Wallace, who originally made the claims under parliamentary privilege, said his sources stand by them.

Late on Tuesday night a lawyer at the centre of the affair, Ian Coulter, denied any of the money in an Isle of Man account was intended for any politician.

Responding to the statement in the Dail, Mr Wallace said: "I see Mr Coulter has come out and denied the involvement of a politician. Well he would, wouldn't he?"

The Wexford TD added: "I decided to contact my sources this morning and ask them to what degree of certainty they could stand over the involvement of a particular politician. They replied: 'Is 100% enough?'"

Mr Coulter's formerly worked for Belfast-based law firm Tughans, which was involved in the £1.1bn sale of Northern Ireland assets owned by the Dublin Government's 'bad bank' Nama to US investment firm Cerberus last year. He said: "No politician, nor any relative of any politician in Northern Ireland, was ever to receive any monies in any way as part of this deal. This was never discussed, assumed nor expected."

Money which has been called into question was part of the total legal and consultancy fees agreed as payable by Cerberus to its US lawyers, Brown Rudnick. Cerberus did not engage or pay Tughans directly.

Mr Coulter said he instructed Tughans' finance director to transfer a "portion of the fees" to an "external account which was controlled only by me" in September 2014.

"Not a penny of this money was touched," he said.

"The reason for the transfer is a complex, commercially - and legally - sensitive issue and has been explained to my former partners at Tughans."

However, Tughans said that it "strongly disagrees" with his version of events surrounding the treatment, discovery and retrieval of the fees and his exit from the practice.

"We voluntarily brought the matter to the attention of the Law Society and will continue to co-operate with any inquiry," it said in a statement.

Belfast Telegraph


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