Nama defiant over sale of €5.7bn in loans to US fund

Nama was toughing it out last night amid calls from Stormont and in the Dáil that it review the process behind the controversial sale last year of €5.7bn of loans to a giant US fund.

In an unusual display of unity, leading DUP and Sinn Féin members of the Stormont Finance Committee claimed yesterday that the sale process that led to Cerberus buying a huge bundle of northern loans for the heavily discounted price of €1.6bn in April 2014 was deeply “flawed”.

Senior DUP MLA Paul Girvan said that revelations of last week had unearthed what he called a “dirty scheme”.

Stormont now plans to invite almost every one — including law firms and rival US funds Cerberus and Pimco, which were involved in the sale, as well as Nama board members — to participate in its inquiry.

The controversy flared last week after Independent TD Mick Wallace revealed in the Dáil the existence of a £7m (€9.8m) Isle of Man bank account. He claimed that the money was earmarked for a Northern Ireland politician.

Stormont committee chair Daithí McKay said the issue was now one of “public confidence”. “There were a number of serious allegations relating to Nama and the sale of the portfolio in the North and also accusations pertaining to a bank account on the Isle of Man and a number of fees that were to come out of that account for fixers etc,” said Mr McKay.

It was unclear last night whether Nama board members would attend the Belfast hearings, which may start work next week.

The Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee meets tomorrow to decide how it will probe the allegations.

But Nama said that it stood fully behind a “robust” sales process. A spokesman said that Nama was “very satisfied” it achieved the best price for Irish taxpayers.

The Irish Examiner has highlighted the role of Brown Rudnick, the US lawyers, in advising both Pimco and then Cerberus in the Project Eagle transaction.

Yesterday, the law firm said it would back any inquiry.

“Brown Rudnick is fully supportive of efforts to clarify the issues that have been raised over this matter and will give every assistance to the relevant authorities,” it told the Irish Examiner.

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