Public Accounts Committee set to report on Nama inquiry at end of the month

Dáil group looked into €1.6bn sale of agency’s Northern Ireland loans

Comptroller and Auditor General Séamus McCarthy had criticised Nama’s handling of a potential conflict of interest. Photograph: Frank Miller

Comptroller and Auditor General Séamus McCarthy had criticised Nama’s handling of a potential conflict of interest. Photograph: Frank Miller

 

The Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee hopes to report on its investigation of Nama’s €1.6 billion sale of its Northern Ireland loans at the end of the month.

The committee held an inquiry into the sale after the Comptroller and Auditor General, Séamus McCarthy, criticised Nama’s handling of a potential conflict of interest and suggested the deal cost taxpayers €200 million.

The sale, known as Project Eagle, has been mired in controversy over claims that business and political figures were to benefit from the deal.

Sources said the committee will complete a draft report of its findings next week and should be ready to publish them towards the end of this month. Extra work following up some evidence has delayed the report by one or two weeks.

The committee finished almost three months of hearings shortly before Christmas and has been working on the report since members returned in the new year, producing a summary of the evidence heard.

One of the Project Eagle bidders, US company Pimco, left the auction in early 2014 after telling Nama it had discussed paying former agency adviser Frank Cushnahan, Belfast solicitors Tughans and US lawyers Brown Rudnick a £15 million success fee between them.

Successful bidder

The successful bidder, US vulture fund Cerberus, hired Tughans and Brown Rudnick after Pimco’s exit and paid them £15 million. Its chief operating officer, Mark Neporent, told the committee the company first made sure that neither Mr Cushnahan nor anyone else connected with Nama was working for any of its advisers.

The row blew up when it emerged that Tughans former managing partner, Ian Coulter, had transferred £6 million of the firm’s £7.5 million payment for its work on the deal to an account in the Isle of Man and then moved it back again. He resigned after his firm discovered the transfer.

Independent TD Mick Wallace, whom Cerberus is pursuing for a €2 million debt, has been highlighting the controversy in the Dáil since 2015, before he discovered that the US fund was one of his creditors.