The Bermudan-based financial adviser landed a €5.4m payment from the State’s bad bank for approximately three months’ work “to assess market interest, advise on and manage the sale” of Nama’s Northern Ireland debtor loan portfolio, known as Project Eagle.
The sale to Cerberus Capital has been shrouded in controversy after claims made by Independent TD Mick Wallace under Dáil privilege that €9.8m in an Isle of Man bank account was “reportedly earmarked” for an unnamed Northern politician. Further disclosures by Nama chairman Frank Daly at a hearing of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) last week revealed a former adviser to the bad bank’s Northern Ireland Advisory Committee (NIAC), Frank Cushnahan was one of three third parties that was to be paid a £5m sale fee.
Figures seen by the Irish Examiner show that Mr Cushnahan — who retired as an external member of the NIAC in November 2013, a number of months before the sale to Cerebus was completed — received €16,000 in fees over four years for his role on the committee.
Mr Cushnahan received €4,000 in both 2010 and 2012 with further payments of €5,000 and €3,000 in 2011 and 2013 respectively.
“I don’t have a difficulty with members of the Nama Advisory Board being paid some fees for their work but this should obviously be accompanied by a strict obligation on those members not to offer any advisory services, while they are serving on the board or indeed at anytime afterwards, to firms wishing to buy assets from Nama,” Fianna Fáil spokesperson Michael McGrath said. The Cork South Central TD also said it was difficult to see how Lazard could have warranted a fee of €5.4m for their work on “what was a loss-making transaction for Nama”.
Lazard yesterday declined to comment.
Nama insists taxpayers received the best possible deal in the sale of the loan portfolio which had a face value of €5.7bn and was sold for €1.6bn.