Renewed calls for Nama sale inquiry

There have been renewed calls for a full inquiry into Nama’s northern property portfolio sale and fresh claims that some €45m was paid out in ‘fixer’ fees in relation to the deal.

Independent TD Mick Wallace made the claim in the Dáil as he called on the Government to stop treating the €1.5bn Nama sell-off as just a Northern Ireland issue.

He said the sale of toxic assets and property to Cerberus resulted in the US firm selling on loans for double what they paid, which was ultimately a loss to Irish taxpayers. The portfolio of over 800 properties had originally been valued at €5.7bn.

Four sets of authorities and parliamentary committees in three different jurisdictions are investigating the Nama sale, known as Project Eagle.

Mr Wallace previously used Dáil privilege to say that £7m was paid into an offshore account for a politician or party in relation to the deal, a claim police in the North are investigating.

Yesterday, however, he went further, and alleged that Cerberus was able to sell the property related loans for double what it paid for them in April 2014. He went on to claim that a lot more money had in fact been paid out to help get the deal across the line.

“This is a seriously southern problem,” said Mr Wallace. “Cerberus went to some of the major developer players. Before it bought the portfolio, a group of individuals went around to the big developers and asked them whether they would buy their loans back for 50p in the pound. What happened? They jumped at it.

“However, they had to pay a fixer’s fee. The £7m in the Isle of Man that we have been talking about was only for openers. A total of €45m has been paid to fixers.”

Independent TD Mick Wallace
Independent TD Mick Wallace

Mr Wallace confirmed last night to the Irish Examiner that he was referring to euro when he mentioned the €45m in the Dáil.

Nama, which was set up to buy and sell impaired loans or assets for the state, maintains that it has never been involved in any wrongdoing regarding Project Eagle.

The agency also says that the current investigations relate to the conduct of “third parties” on the buyer side of the deal and not Nama itself.

Mr Wallace yesterday said it is “nonsense” to suggest that the problems are all about the purchase.

“There are serious problems about the sale of Project Eagle by Nama to Cerberus and it stinks to the high heavens,” he also told the Dáil.

The Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee, a Stormont Committee in the North as well as police there and authorities in the United States are all investigating claims around Project Eagle.

Mr Wallace went on to claim that Irish police now needed to step in to investigate the sale.

He told the Dáil: “The proceeds of the sale of Project Eagle are the proceeds of crime and the Criminal Assets Bureau should now get involved. CAB could get an interim freezing order in the High Court within a few days and stop the profits being taken offshore.”

Tánaiste Joan Burton
Tánaiste Joan Burton

He also called for Cerberus to be disqualified from Project Arrow, the Nama sale of a €7.6bn portfolio of Irish and British loans which is tied to thousands of properties.

Tánaiste Joan Burton yesterday said Mr Wallace should pass his claims onto authorities both here, in the North, and in the US.

TDs and senators will speak to Nama next week at the Public Accounts Committee, where further inquiries about Project Eagle are expected to be raised.

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