Mick Wallace alleges threat from Cerberus

Independent TD claims investment firm said he would be ‘sorted’ over allegations

Independent TD Mick Wallace: ‘A message was passed on to me from a leading member of Cerberus Ireland that I was going to get sorted.’ Photograph: Eric Luke

Independent TD Mick Wallace: ‘A message was passed on to me from a leading member of Cerberus Ireland that I was going to get sorted.’ Photograph: Eric Luke

 

Independent TD Mick Wallace has claimed he was threatened with being “sorted” by investment firm Cerberus for making allegations in the Dáil about their £1.2 billion purchase of a Northern Ireland loan portfolio from the National Asset Management Agency (Nama).

He said in the Dáil: “I was summoned to a meeting by a public figure and a message was passed on to me from a leading member of Cerberus Ireland that I was going to get sorted.”

He also claimed a developer whose loans were in the loan portfolio, known as Project Eagle, “came to Nama to complain about being approached by fixers who were looking for a backhander in order for him to buy his loans back at 50p in the pound in the autumn of 2013, months before Cerberus even bought it.” He asked Taoiseach Enda Kenny to “seriously look at the questions swirling around Nama”.

Mr Wallace has repeatedly raised concerns in the Dáil about the sale of the loan book of 800 properties in Northern Ireland, and the alleged payment of €45 million in “fixer” fees to a number of individuals.

Full privilege

He told Mr Wallace: “I’d like you to furnish to the Public Accounts Committee [PAC] the basis of the evidence given to you that will make the allegations you made stand up.”

Mr Wallace referred to a confidential letter from law firm Brown Ruddnick to the Minister of Finance in the North, admitting acting for two clients in Project Eagle, for US investment firm Pimco and Cerberus, which was not legal. He said the matter was now being investigated by the US Securities Exchange Commission.

He also repeated calls for Cerberus to be disqualified from the sale of Project Arrow, a portfolio of loans in Britain and Ireland, 50 per cent of which was housing in the State, because it was involved in two criminal investigations.

Mr Kenny suggested that perhaps Mr Wallace did not want the issues raised through the PAC, the body to whom Nama was responsible. He echoed Minister for Finance Michael Noonan, who said earlier: “Nama acted absolutely properly. If other people acted improperly it was on the purchasing side, not on the selling side.”

He was responding to Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty, who had asked him when he was notified about Pimco’s concerns about the sale of the Northern Ireland portfolio and their allegation of a £15 million fixer fee in the process.

Mr Noonan said on March 10th, 2014, Pimco told Nama that its compliance staff had discovered the fee arrangement as part of the sales process. He said Nama’s chairman had informed him either the next day or two days later.

Mr Noonan said: “Either way Pimco was out.” He said he had listened to the Nama chairman and the advice of its board and he fully agreed Pimco could not continue in the sale, which also involved seven other investors. He said “we must credit Pimco in coming forward to Nama with this information” and “we must also credit Nama for doing what was best for the integrity of the sales process”.