More details on €1.2bn Nama sale in North sought
North’s Department of Finance to be asked to provide additional documentation
Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister said the concern over the Nama sale “touches on the credibility” of the finance committee
The North’s Department of Finance is to be asked to provide any additional documentation it has that could facilitate the investigation into the sale of Nama’s £1.2 billion Northern Ireland property portfolio.
The Assembly finance committee yesterday decided to write to the department seeking any material that could assist in the current Nama investigation.
The Stormont committee took its decision in the wake of the arrest of two men on Tuesday by the British National Crime Agency which is investigating alleged fraud over the sale of the portfolio to the US investment giant Cerberus. The men were released on bail.
The committee agreed to seek any additional documentation from the finance department after Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister noted that the new Minister of Finance is Sinn Féin’s MLA Mairtin Ó Muilleoir, a former member of the committee.
Mr Allister said the concern over the Nama sale “touches on the credibility” of the finance committee and that it was vital that it properly address the issue. He said that Mr O Muilleoir, as a committee member, “was an enthusiast” for extracting papers relevant to Nama from the Department of Finance.
“Now would be an opportune time to invite the department to again consider the distribution of papers to the committee in respect of Nama,” he said.
Mr Allister said the matter must not be “long fingered” and must be addressed with “vigour and with some expedition”.
VitalEmma PengellyNational Crime Agency
SDLP member Claire Hanna, who supported Mr Allister’s proposal, said there must be a “rigorous investigation” around Nama. “While the committee is dealing with a number of live issues, one of the outstanding concerns is our inquiry into the sale of the Nama loan portfolio which has major public confidence ramifications,” she said after the meeting.
“I was determined to ensure that from day one our message to the public on this matter was that they could have fullest confidence we would pursue the truth rigorously and with full transparency,” added Ms Hanna.
“This is a live issue and we hope that the NCA and the US regulatory authority go wherever the evidence takes them. However there are many issues within the remit of the Assembly and the finance committee and there are no reasons why criminal and public inquiries cannot operate in parallel,” she said.
Ulster Unionist Party member Ross Hussey said the committee must keep focus on the issue. “This is something that has to be taken and shaken until we get all the answers we want…if there are more papers that have to be produced so be it,” he said.
Sinn Féin committee member John O’Dowd said the truth had not been fully discovered in relation to Nama. “I am pretty sure the committee is not impeding or impeaching any other proceedings that are going on,” he said