Mick Wallace refuses to release extra information on Nama sale

TD says he must check validity of ’Project Eagle’ information before it’s released

Mick Wallace raised concerns on Sunday about the sale in 2014 to Cerberus Capital Management of Nama’s Northern Ireland loan book. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Mick Wallace raised concerns on Sunday about the sale in 2014 to Cerberus Capital Management of Nama’s Northern Ireland loan book. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

 

Independent TD Mick Wallace has said he has more information on the controversial Nama sale “Project Eagle” but that he needs to check the validity of it before it’s released.

The Wexford deputy raised concerns on Sunday about the sale in 2014 to Cerberus Capital Management of Nama’s Northern Ireland loan book.

In the Dáil last Thursday, Mr Wallace said a routine audit of Tughans law firm in Belfast had found £7 million (€9.8 million) in an Isle of Man account that was “reportedly earmarked for a Northern Ireland politician or political party”.

Speaking on This Week on RTÉ radio on Sunday, Mr Wallace said he was preparing to make more information public.

“Contrary to what people might think I go to great lengths to avoid abusing Dáil privilege,” he said.

“I could have named the politician that was speculated was ear-marked for the £7 million but because I wasn’t 100 per cent certain I didn’t use his name in the Dáil because if I was wrong then I would have done him a serious injustice.”

Referring to the additional information in his possession, he said:

“When I am more confident that I am 100 per cent sure that what I am saying is correct then I will let that out that too”.

Tughans said on Friday its former managing partner, Ian Coulter, left in the wake of a controversy over “diverted” fees.

Mr Wallace said the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan should demand an immediate investigation into the sale. He said there should be an independent inquiry into whether or not Nama had delivered the best results in interests of taxpayers.

“If the Government want to put an end to the speculation around the workings of Nama, they’re going to have to initiate an independent inquiry.”

He described Nama as “the biggest project in the history of the State”.

Responding to requests from Government Ministers that he bring information to the gardaí and the office of the Comptroller and Auditor General, Mr Wallace said both bodies had “too much on their plates”.

He accused Ministers of “hiding” behind the Comptroller and Auditor General when they were challenged.

Mr Wallace said the PSNI had been looking into Project Eagle for quite some time and he would be surprised if they did not have most of the information he had. He also said he expected Mr Noonan had been kept well informed.

Meanwhile, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) could invite Nama to give details of the deal.

Ms Fitzgerald said she was sure there was more information that could be put into the public arena. Mr Wallace should make any information he had available to relevant bodies including the gardaí.

She said the Comptroller and Auditor General had staff at Nama and access to all files.

“Clearly he can come in before the Public Accounts Committee. The Public Accounts Committee can invite Nama in, and it’s entirely up to them whether they would or not, to give whatever appropriate details can be given in the public arena in relation to this deal.”

Ms Fitzgerald said Nama had insisted on an open tendering process and there was no question of any conflict of interest.

“There’s clear boundaries, clear lines between those who were involved on the different sides of the deal and Nama,” she said. “I’m sure there is more info that can be put in the public arena.”

Ms Fitzgerald said she was sure Mr Noonan would ask for a report if he had concerns.