State auditor examines sale of Nama’s Northern loan book

The controversial sale of Nama’s Northern Ireland loan book — known as Project Eagle — is under investigation by the State’s chief auditor, the C&AG.

While Nama has denied any wrongdoing on its part, the Government has resisted repeated calls to establish a commission of inquiry into Project Eagle, and is again set to do so when the matter comes before the Dáil this week.

Independents 4 Change, which consists of TDs Mick Wallace, Clare Daly, Thomas Pringle, Catherine Connolly, and Joan Collins, has tabled a private members’ motion calling for the transaction to be examined by a judge.

Mr Wallace in particular has used the Dáil to raise serious allegations in relation to the transactions which totalled €1.3bn.

The proposal is to receive the backing of Sinn Féin, which has called for an investigation.

Having previously tabled a motion calling for a commission, Fianna Fáil last night said it was to table an amendment to the motion saying now was not the time for an investigation to proceed.

Sinn Féin said the amendment was a watering down of Fianna Fáil’s position which has resulted of the deal with Fine Gael to support the Government.

Fianna Fáil rejected this saying it was right to allow the C&AG’s report to be concluded first.

“We feel the C&AG should be allowed conclude its work and then take the motion in the autumn and things have changed namely people have been arrested,” said a Fianna Fáil adviser.

Given the matter is now under consideration by the C&AG, it will in turn be examined by the new Public Accounts Committee.

The Government has consistently resisted calls for an inquiry, and could lose a vote in the Dáil this week.

The Cabinet agreed yesterday to formally oppose the Independent’s Motion.

The Department of Finance said last night that, for its part, it was satisfied that Nama has performed its task of selling off its loan book as required. It also insisted it had fully co-operated with the Northern Irish finance committee’s investigation.

The total loan book of Northern Ireland borrowers involved about 850 properties across Ireland and Britain and was sold for just over £1bn (€1.3bn), on a nominal value of £4.5bn. Allegations then emerged that £7.5m was held in an offshore account for “fixer” fees for the sale.

The Independents4Change motion calls for a commission which would be mandated to conduct a full and proper investigation into the sale and all the facts surrounding it.

It also requests a deadline to be enforced to ensure it is not a lengthy inquiry and the report to be published in full.

The motion is to be debated later today.

Meanwhile, after much delay, the full line up of the PAC was revealed yesterday.

Former environment minister Alan Kelly and former health minister Roisin Shortall are among those appointed to the Dáil’s most powerful committee, which will be chaired by Fianna Fáil’s Sean Fleming.

Others appointed to the committee include outgoing Sinn Féin member, Mary Lou McDonald and Fianna Fáil’s Marc MacSharry, who sat on the Oireachtas banking inquiry.

Fine Gael has appointed TDs Peter Burke, Alan Farrell, Josepha Madigan and Noel Rock while Fianna Fail members include Bobby Aylward and Shane Cassells.


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