Irish Republican News · September 26, 2015
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Gloves off as names are named in NAMA scandal
Gloves off as names are named in NAMA scandal

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There were a number of important developments in the corruption scandal over the sale of the ‘Project Eagle’ portfolio this week.

Politicians in the Dublin government, the DUP leader Peter Robinson and a number of prominent legal and financial figures were openly accused of facilitating a below-value sale of assets owned by the National Assets Management Agency (NAMA), itself owned by the 26 County state.

The state body took over tens of billions in bad debts form Ireland’s failed banking system following the 2008 financial crisis, and has resold many in a controversial manner, north and south of the border.

Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness told the inquiry he was “kept in the dark” about the sell-off of the portfolio in the North. The deputy first minister said he was unaware of telephone calls, correspondence and meetings relating to the #1.2 billion single-lot sale to US buyers in 2013.

Mr McGuinness said it was of “huge significance” that in June 2013 the North’s former finance minister Sammy Wilson wrote to the Minister for Finance in Dublin about the assets, and that he was never made aware of it.

He also highlighted a meeting that took place in September 2013 at Stormont between Michael Noonan and the then DUP finance minister in the North, Simon Hamilton, of which he was also unaware of.

Mr McGuinness described a further meeting that took place at Stormont Castle on 25th March 2014 involving the then first minister Peter Robinson, the former finance minister Simon Hamilton, and representatives from the US investment group Cerberus, which ultimately acquired the NAMA portfolio. This included the former US vice president Dan Quayle, who is chairman of Cerberus Global Investments.

Mr McGuinness said this meeting was “hugely significant”.

The North’ Deputy First Minister disputed claims by the DUP that he had been aware of a memorandum of understanding in relation to the possible Nama transaction, or that he had been invited to a meeting with Cerberus at one stage.

He raised questions about the actions of Dublin’s Finance Minister Michael Noonan in conjunction with Mr Robinson, who he said had acted in the role of the North’s First Minister without his knowledge.

“The only conversation that I had with Michael Noonan was on the 14th January 2014 when the First Minister and I were involved in a conference call with Michael Noonan and outside of that it was quite clear that there were all sorts of other meetings taking place that I was unaware of”.

Mr Noonan did not comment on Mr McGuinness’s remarks, nor did he comment on a letter that Mr McGuinness wrote to him in July of this year to express his concerns about the “lack of respect” he had shown in respect of the “joint nature of the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister” in the North.

LOYALIST IS CENTRE STAGE

Also on Wednesday, loyalist Jamie Bryson made a statement to the Stormont inquiry, placing on public record the allegations he had made in internet blog posts over the past number of months -- based he says on documents currently in the hands of Britain’s National Crime Agency.

Bryson said that politicians and business people were to benefit from a ‘success fee’ of seven million pounds from the cut price sell-off, lodged in an offshore bank account. His comments, finally made fully public, sparked a storm of media interest in the scandal, and it was indeed DUP leader Peter Robinson who was top of his list.

“There were to be a number of beneficiaries to this fee and I will refer to them simply as person A, person B, person C, person D and person E,” Bryson said.

“I can now tell this committee without fear of contradiction that person A is Mr Peter Robinson MLA, person B is (developer) Mr Andrew Creighton, person C is (accountant) Mr David Watters, person D is (ex Nama adviser) Mr Frank Cushnahan and person E is (lawyer) Ian Coulter.”

Members of the DUP had strongly opposed holding an open session, describing Bryson’s claims as “hearsay” and “opinion”.

In a statement released afterwards, Mr Robinson said: “I repeat, I neither received, expected to receive, sought, nor was I offered a single penny as a result of the NAMA sale.

“The allegations made today lack credibility and can have no evidential basis. The scripted performance was little short of pantomime. It is outrageous that such scurrilous and unfounded allegations can be made without providing one iota of evidence.”

Robinson is expected to appear before the Stormont committee next month, while a committee of the Dublin parliament has invited Bryson south to speak about his allegations there.

© 2015 Irish Republican News