Nama was caught up in controversy again last night, after a BBC spotlight investigation uncovered corruption in the bad bank.
One of NAMA’s Northern Ireland advisors, Frank Cushnehan, was filmed claiming he was due a ‘fixer fee’ of £5m for his role in the sale of NAMA’s Northern Ireland portfolio.
The BBC investigation was shown as part of an undercover recording.
It comes after years of denying he would receive any such payment. Mr Cushnahan had resigned as advisor in November 2013, before the eventual sale to the Cerberus investment fund in 2014 for €1.3bn.
‘Project Eagle’ was the nickname Nama’s sale of loans taken by Northern Ireland property developers was given. Nama’s portfolio included 850 properties and development land in northern Ireland.
Nama had previously paid about £1.1bn to Irish banks for the Northern Ireland loans, that originally had a value of £4.5bn.
In January 2014, nine bidders were asked to come forward with proposals – including Cerberus and US investment firm Pimco.
Pimco considered acquiring the NI Nama portfolio but the deal collapsed. According to evidence given to the Public Accounts Committee, Pimco pulled out of the bidding process after discovering Frank Cushnahan was in line for the payment after the sale.
They told Nama that there was a fee of £15m to be split three ways: Brown Rudnick, the Tughans’ managing partner Ian Coulter, and Frank Cushnahan.
Brown Rudnick is an international law firm, with offices in the US, Dublin, London and Paris. Cerberus says it engaged the firm as its lawyers for the Project Eagle sale.
Tughans’ is a Belfast law firm employed by Brown Rudnick to work on behalf of Cerberus.
TD Mick Wallace alleged they were involved with £7m in a bank account “earmarked” for a Northern Irish politician.
Northern Ireland’s first Minister Peter Robinson was the one of five recipients alleged to receive money by Loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson. The allegations were made at Stormont’s finance committee.
Robinson called the claims “scurrilous and unfounded”.
By Ryan McBride