Call for Nama deal probe

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has been urged to set up a “commission of investigation” into the Nama Project Eagle controversy after being told that there is now evidence “shadowy individuals” were involved in the deal.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin made the allegation during the latest Dáil leaders questions debate, saying the Taoiseach cannot continue to avoid the matter because it took part in “another jurisdiction” .

The Irish News yesterday reported that Belfast-based accountant David Watters “laid claim” to over £7.5m placed in an Isle of Man account and linked to the mass sale of Nama’s northern loan book in a draft letter to Tughans — the local law firm representing eventual Nama loan book buyers Cerberus — on April 24, 2014.

Mr Watters — who in a statement before the draft letter emerged said he had “no direct or indirect involvement in the Project Eagle transaction” and was not due to “receive a fee from monies paid to an Isle of Man account” — wrote in the letter that he was due to benefit from the off-shore money as he had the initial idea to sell-off the loans.

Mr Martin said the latest twist in the saga should be raising warning signs for a Government that has ultimate responsibility for the State property group.

The opposition leader said the “fundamental” point is the off-shore money may have been used as “a vehicle” to assist the deal in November 2010 and that “it seems a team of individuals, shadowy individuals” was involved in what happened.

Mr Martin said the only “honourable thing to do” is to “set up a commission of investigation” to examine what exactly happened and who, if anyone, benefited.

However, he said instead “the bottom line is the Government is ignoring this issue”.

Responding to the claims, Taoiseach Enda Kenny insisted it is “not the view of Government at all” that it is ignoring the issue. He said “if there is evidence of wrongdoing” it should be investigated and that two parliamentary inquiries in the Republic and Northern Ireland are already examining issues surrounding Project Eagle, in addition to a PSNI investigation, a UK national crime agency investigation and a separate inquiry by the US securities and exchange commission.

However, while noting answers are being sought, the Taoiseach added the issues occurred in a “different jurisdiction”.

Project Eagle was completed early last year and saw a cluster of properties in the North under Nama’s control valued at €5.6bn sold for just €1.6bn.

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