Nama says individuals cannot stop debt enforcement

Claims in Cerberus row suggest Hanna ensured no receivers appointed to certain creditors

Former Nama Northern Ireland Advisory Committee member Frank Cushnahan: he was recorded telling two other business people that he had contacted Mr Hanna on a number of occasions to prevent “people’s lights going out”. Photograph:  Press Eye

Former Nama Northern Ireland Advisory Committee member Frank Cushnahan: he was recorded telling two other business people that he had contacted Mr Hanna on a number of occasions to prevent “people’s lights going out”. Photograph: Press Eye

 

No individual in Nama has the power to start or stop debt enforcement proceedings against its clients, the organisation said on Tuesday.

Claims made in the ongoing row over the €1.6 billion sale of Nama’s Northern Ireland loans to US investor Cerberus, suggest its former head of asset management, Ronnie Hanna, helped ensure that it did not appoint receivers or liquidators to some of its creditors.

Nama would not comment directly on the claims relating to Mr Hanna, but a spokesman said “no one individual in the agency has the power to start or stop enforcement proceedings”.

He explained that no executive on their own would have been able to either appoint liquidators or receivers, or to prevent their appointment, as all such decisions had to follow strict procedures and required board approval. Any suggestion to the contrary was either a misunderstanding or misrepresentation of its decision-making process, he said.

Former Nama Northern Ireland Advisory Committee member, Frank Cushnahan, was recorded telling two other business people that he had contacted Mr Hanna on a number of occasions to prevent “people’s lights going out”.

One of those present, developer John Miskelly, later said the recording, made secretly for BBC Northern Ireland’s Spotlight programme, was accurate.

Efforts to contact Mr Hanna for a comment on Tuesday were not successful.

Mr Cushnahan was also recorded claiming that £6 million transferred from Belfast law firm Tughans to an Isle of Man account, was intended as payment for “secret” work he did to aid Cerberus’s successful bid for the loans, known as Project Eagle. Tughans former managing partner and close associate of Mr Cushnahan’s, Ian Coulter, resigned last year when the transaction, made without the firm’s knowledge, was discovered.

Sought assurances

Brown Rudnick

It said: “We conducted ourselves in accordance with the highest ethical standards.”

A Brown Rudnick spokesman said that, as the firm has repeated several times previously, it did not have an arrangement with any party other than Tughans in relation to the Cerberus bid.

“This firm acted at all times properly and in compliance with applicable law,” the spokesman added.

Nama said there was no allegation of any wrongdoing against it. “The programme raised matters that relate to individuals at the margins of the buyer side of the Project Eagle loan sale and which fall within the jurisdiction of the Northern Ireland authorities.”

There was no further comment from either of the key individuals at the heart of the various ongoing inquiries in to the sale, Mr Cushnahan and Mr Coulter. Both have already denied any wrong doing.

To date, neither has agreed to appear to answer questions from the Stormont inquiry investigating the Nama sale despite frequent requests.