Shadowy group ‘stitching up’ Nama NI deal back in 2010

Nama executives should attend Stormont and give evidence publicly - Micheál Martin

A "group of shadowy individuals" was "stitching up" a deal on the National Asset Management Agency (Nama) sale of a loan portfolio of 800 properties in Northern Ireland as far back as 2010, the Dáil has heard.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin again called for a commission of investigation into the controversial “Project Eagle” sale to a US investment company, concluded in 2014.

He said the Minister for Finance should have called “pause” on the sale, adding that “the entirely of the deal must pass a basic ethics test”.

Nama executives should attend the Stormont inquiry and give evidence publicly, he added. They should not use the European Central Bank “leithscéal” or excuse that they were not answerable in the North.


Two investigations

Taoiseach Enda Kenny insisted two investigations were already under way, including the Stormont committee inquiry and a police investigation, as well as interest from US authorities.

He pointed out that political and legal systems North and South were different and there were legal difficulties for Nama to appear in the North.

The Project Eagle sale erupted into controversy because of allegations that £7.5 million was held in an offshore account for “fixer” fees.

Mr Martin said a letter was published in the Irish News on Tuesday written by David Waters, an accountant to the solicitors' firm involved in the deal in the North, Tughans, where a former director had control of the £7.5 million "acquisition fee".

He had sought the fee, which he claimed was ultimately to be paid to a vehicle specifically formed for the purpose of the sale, in November 2010.

‘Behind closed doors’

“It seems a group of shadowy individuals were meeting behind closed doors stitching up this deal as far back as 2010, the ultimate goal being to get it into one bundle,” Mr Martin said.

He said the more that unravelled in relation to the deal, the more genuine the concern that existed over the issue.

Mr Kenny insisted the issue was being treated very seriously, stressing there were two inquiries.

Mr Martin said the Taoiseach knew the Stormont inquiry would not get the necessary results because the same person who wrote the letter seeking the acquisition fee told the inquiry he had nothing to do with it.

The Taoiseach said they wanted full accountability and transparency and Nama had provided 300 pages of evidence to the inquiry, which was on its website.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times