Project Eagle: Cerberus manager to appear before Dáil PAC

Public Accounts Committee TDs to query Neporent on €1.6bn loan purchase from Nama

A key executive from the US company that bought Nama's Northern Ireland loans in a controversial €1.6 billion deal will face questions from TDs next month.

Mark Neporent, chief operating officer of Cerberus, the New York-based investor that bought the loans, dubbed Project Eagle, will appear at the Dáil Public Accounts Committee's investigation of the deal on November 17th.

The committee's chairman, Fianna Fáil TD John Fleming, also confirmed at its hearing on Tuesday that Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister, Sinn Féin Assembly member Martin McGuinness, will appear before it the previous day, November 16th.

Mr Neporent has been a Cerberus executive since 1998 and is a director of many of its Irish subsidiaries, including Promontoria Eagle, the company used to buy the Northern Ireland assets in April 2014.

Fees paid to lawyers

He faces possible questions about fees paid to lawyers, Belfast solicitors Tughans and US firm Brown Rudnick, which Cerberus recruited shortly before its bid secured Project Eagle.

TDs are also likely to quiz Mr Neporent on his firm’s decision to hire the two law firms, which had previously been working for another bidder, Pimco.

Tughans former managing partner, Ian Coulter, transferred £6 million of the £7.5 million it received for its work on the deal to an Isle of Man bank account in late 2014.

Mr Coulter subsequently transferred the money back to the firm, but resigned after the firm discovered the transaction during a routine audit in January last year.

His resignation and the transfer of funds sparked the controversy, which has since led to investigations in a number of jurisdictions, including an inquiry by the UK's National Crime Agency and the PAC in Ireland.

Tughans and Brown Rudnick had been working for Pimco, alongside former Nama adviser Frank Cushnahan, and the three were to share £15 million if it succeeded in buying Project Eagle.

However, Pimco dropped out of the race after telling Nama of Mr Cushnahan’s involvement in its bid and the law firms switched sides to Cerberus, which assured the State agency that no-one involved with it was working on the company’s bid.

Nama’s handling of the potential conflict of interest involving its former adviser drew criticism in a report by Comptroller and Auditor General, Séamus McCarthy.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas

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