Confusion over meeting of Cerberus and Peter Robinson

US investment house insists meeting was ‘official’ but Sinn Féin say failure to get McGuinness authorisation means this cannot be so

Confusion surrounds the status of a meeting between investment group Cerberus, First Minister Peter Robinson and others at Stormont just 10 days before the US company bought the 850-property Nama portfolio for less than £1.5 million.

Former Tughans managing partner Ian Coulter also attended this meeting.

Cerberus has characterised the meeting on March 25th last year between former US vice-president Dan Quayle, who is chairman of Cerberus' global investments, and Mr Robinson, then finance minister Simon Hamilton, and Mr Coulter as an "official" meeting.

However, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has said that it could not have been an official engagement. He said all official meetings involving the First Minister and/or the Deputy First Minister must be agreed by both him and Mr Robinson and that he was not aware of the meeting on March 25th.


“It is standard operating practice to hold due diligence meetings of this nature with government ministers in advance of making a bid, especially as we had never invested in Northern Ireland previously,” said a Cerberus spokesman.

“This was an official meeting and a matter of public record. It was also widely reported at the time that vice president Quayle and the First Minister had spoken before the announcement,” he said.

Cerberus had held additional meetings with government ministers following the award of the Project Eagle portfolio that were also a matter of public record, the Cerberus statement added, including a visit by vice-president Quayle on September 24th, 2014.

Mr McGuinness however said it was not a meeting organised by the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister notwithstanding Cerberus’s understanding of the meeting.

“If such a meeting took place it was not a formal or official meeting with the Office of the First Minister/Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) as it was not processed thought the department,” he said.

“I was not aware of and had not agreed to any such meeting in respect of the joint office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister,” he added.

A Sinn Féin spokesman also questioned whether the “officials” referred to in the Cerberus statement as being in attendance were civil servants. He said if they were the meeting should have been officially logged at OFMDFM and he was not aware of any record of that meeting.

Mr Coulter is one of the central figures in the current controversy over the sale of the Nama portfolio to Cerberus.

Tughans confirmed that £7 million which independent TD Mick Wallace claimed was "reportedly" earmarked for a Northern Ireland politician or party ended up in an Isle of Man of which Mr Coulter was the sole beneficiary.

That money was retrieved, according to Tughans, and Mr Coulter left the company in January this year. He also stood down as chairman of the Confederation of British Industry in Northern Ireland.

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times