DUP leader Peter Robinson rejects pay claims linked to Nama assets sale

Democratic Unionist Party leader Peter Robinson has rejected allegations he was to receive any payment linked to Northern Ireland’s largest ever property sale.

Dismissing as baseless the accusations made to a Stormont scrutiny committee, Mr Robinson, who has temporarily stood aside as first minister to facilitate talks to save the devolved Assembly at Stormont, said he would be willing to appear before MLAs.

In a hard-hitting statement, 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. I am happy to appear before the committee.”

In evidence to the finance committee at Parliament Buildings Belfast, high-profile loyalist blogger and flag protester Jamie Bryson named the DUP leaderas among five people to receive a share of a “success fee” linked to the £1.2bn (€1.5bn) sale of assets owned by Nama to US investment firm Cerberus.

The fee was to be paid into an offshore account controlled by Ian Coulter, a former managing partner of Belfast-based law firm Tughans, the committee heard.

Mr Bryson said: “This was a success fee that was to be paid in to a dormant Danske Bank account in the Donegal Square West branch [in Belfast] and from there it was transferred to an offshore account.

“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.

“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 [solicitor] Ian Coulter.”

The Nama sale hit the headlines when Independent TD Mick Wallace used parliamentary privilege to make allegations of a political pay-off linked to the sale of Nama’s Northern portfolio.

Mick Wallace TD
Mick Wallace TD

He claimed £7m in an Isle of Man bank account was “reportedly earmarked for a Northern Ireland politician or political party”.

Political watchdogs on both sides of the border are examining the issue, while Britain’s national crime agency has launched a criminal investigation.

All parties involved in the transaction have vehemently denied acting unlawfully and Mr Coulter, the lawyer who transferred the money, has denied it was intended for any politician.

Mr Bryson was permitted to give his evidence in public following a committee vote by MLAs. Members of the DUP opposed holding an open session, claiming he had not established a direct link to the inquiry remit and challenged the credibility of his evidence throughout.

Mr Bryson said he stood over his allegations “110%”. “I believe I have demonstrated a clear web of individuals, including politicians, who have contrived and conspired together to get things done and increase their own bank balances by a nod and a wink schemes.”

When pushed to reveal the source of his evidence, he said he would rather go to jail than betray a confidence.

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