Nama chair lodges complaint against Frank Cushnahan
State ethics watchdog will now join investigation into Project Eagle property deal
Nama chairman Frank Daly has made a complaint to the State’s ethics watchdog about a former member of the agency’s Northern Ireland Advisory Committee who is at the centre of the Cerberus controversy. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times
The chairman of the National Asset Management Agency (Nama) Frank Daly has made a complaint to the State’s ethics watchdog about a former member of the agency’s Northern Ireland Advisory Committee who is at the centre of the Cerberus controversy.
Mr Daly, in a letter to the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo) dated March 2nd 2016, complained formally about Frank Cushnahan, saying he “may have contravened section 17” of the Ethics in Public Office Act 1995.
Mr Daly’s complaint means that an investigatory agency of the Republic – Sipo – has now joined the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) and a US investigation, in examining Project Eagle, Nama’s single largest property deal in which the US-based fund, Cerberus, was ultimately successful.
Section 17 of the Republic’s ethics Act states that a person who holds a directorship in a public body must tell Sipo of any interests they have that could materially influence them in relation to the performance of their duties as a director.
In his complaint to Sipo, Mr Daly claims that Mr Cushnahan may have contravened the Act because of shares he (Mr Cushnahan) held in the Graham Group companies “which were obligors in respect of loans acquired by Nama from participating institutions”, according to a July 7th letter from Sipo to the independent TD Mick Wallace.
Mr Wallace has been at the forefront in questioning Nama and the sale of its Northern Ireland portfolio (Project Eagle) with a par value of €5.7 billion, which was eventually bought by the United States-based company Cerberus for a reported €1.6 billion in 2014.
Sipo has apointed an investigating officer, Simon Noone, to examine Mr Daly’s complaint against his former colleague Mr Cushnahan.
Project Eagle was brought to fruition in part through the efforts of the Northern Ireland Advisory Committee in which Mr Cushnahan played a leading role.
It has since been claimed by Mr Wallace in the Dáil that several advisors, lawyers and politicians in the North were due to receive bribes as part of the process of securing the portfolio’s sale to Cerberus.