Frank Cushnahan claims he was owed €7.7m over Nama sale

Adviser secretly recorded saying money moved to Isle of Man account was for him

US company Cerberus paid Nama £1.3 billion for Project Eagle, a portfolio of £4.3 billion in property loans. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

US company Cerberus paid Nama £1.3 billion for Project Eagle, a portfolio of £4.3 billion in property loans. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

The former National Assets Management Agency adviser at the centre of the row over its Project Eagle sale claimed he was meant to receive €7.7 million for facilitating the deal.

Frank Cushnahan, a former member of Nama’s Northern Ireland advisory committee, was secretly recorded telling two others that £6 million sterling (€7.7 million) moved from Belfast law firm Tughans by its managing partner, Ian Coulter, to an Isle of Man bank account in late 2014, was destined for him.

The money was part of a £7.5 million fee that Tughans received for working on the successful bid by US company Cerberus for Project Eagle, a portfolio of £4.3 billion in property loans that Nama sold for £1.3 billion in April 2014. Tughans received the fee from US lawyers Brown Rudnick, with which it worked on advising Cerberus.

Mr Coulter resigned once Tughans discovered the transfer during a routine audit in January last year. The transaction is now the subject of an investigation by the UK’s National Crime Agency.

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One of the businessmen replies, “Do you know his biggest mistake? He put it into an account in his own name.”

Mr Cushnahan then says, “He did that because he was then able to say, ‘There’s this, Cushnahan’s done all this work, therefore, he’s entitled to his fee’.”

One of the others present, developer John Miskelly, subsequently confirmed to the BBC that the recording was an accurate portrayal of the conversation. He has made a complaint in relation to Project Eagle to the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Mr Cushnahan also told Mr Miskelly and accountant, David Grey, that he secretly worked on the Cerberus deal. The US investor assured Nama that nobody currently or previously associated with the agency worked on its bid.

Mr Cushnahan had previously denied through his lawyer that he was meant to benefit from the money transferred from Tughans and also stated that he never worked on the Cerberus bid.

The recording did not indicate if the US company was aware that Mr Cushnahan was working on the deal.