The Key Players in Nama/Tughans Deal – who the DFP Committee want to hear from

The Department of Finance and Personnel Committee met today to schedule hearings to investigate the Project Eagle sale of Nama’s Loan Book in the north.

The first of the hearings have been provisionally scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday the 15th and 16th of July
The Assembly Research Team have been tasked with providing a draft of questions and timeline of events to the Committee.

There was widespread support for early hearings across all the parties attending, given the level of public interest and the continuing drip of information into the public domain.

So who has the DFP Committee summoned and what is their role?

Firstly, Department of Finance and Personnel officials who may have insight into the Project Eagle sales process and to the appointments of Nama’s NI Advisory Committee members.

The two members of that Nama Advisory Committee Frank Cushnahan and Brian Rowntree are to be called to give evidence on what the know about the Project Eagle sale and any alleged impropriety.

Former Managing Partner at Tughans solicitors, Ian Coulter, will no doubt be in for quite a grilling from Committee members.

Former Finance Minister Sammy Wilson is to be asked what he knew about the deal, given that it took place during his term of office and that he was involved in the NIAC appointments process.

Successful bidder Cerberus and Pimco, who withdrew from the sales process following concerns raised about third party payments in their due diligence process, are on the list.

From a legal side we have the trio of Tughans in Belfast, recipient of the alleged £7 million fee, Brown Rudnick in London who sub-contracted Tughans and A&L Goodbody who are Cerberus’ usual legal firm.

On the banking front, Lizards who ran the sales process on behalf of Nama will be called. It was also agreed that steps would be taken to determine which bank operated or facilitated the opening of the Isle of Man account and whether that was done in compliance with the applicable laws.

The Committee intends to call representatives of Nama and Mick Wallace TD, whose statement in Leinster House last week that Tughans’ £7 million fee included an alleged payment to a politician brought the Project Eagle sale into the public domain once again.

Finally it was suggested that all elected representatives who had met with Cerberus – those who had publicly declared they had and those who may yet to declare such meetings – be asked to give an account of their contact.  Based on his own statements, we know this will include the First Minister, Peter Robinson.

One thing for certain, it could be an interesting July fortnight for a whole different set of reasons.

 

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  • Nevin

    Some curious responses re.Cerebus by Simon Hamilton, former DFP minister back in 2014, and other ministers subsequently:

    My Department is not responsible for NAMA, which is an agency of the Irish Government. DFP did not have a role in the sale of NAMA’s Northern Ireland loan portfolio to Cerberus Capital Management. 15.09.2014

    My Department has not engaged with Cerberus Capital Management and therefore I am not in a position to comment on its asset management strategy. Clearly, however, I would like to see Northern Ireland debtors treated reasonably and I will monitor this situation going forward. 15.09.2014

    I have met with representatives of Cerberus to discuss their operations in Northern Ireland, and my officials continue to liaise with the company on a regular basis. 23.10.2014

    The Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) has lead responsibility for finance and banking issues on behalf of the Executive. DFP officials continue to engage with representatives of Cerberus on a regular basis, to discuss the group’s recent acquisitions and its future plans. 15.04.2015

    The regulation of financial services is a reserved matter and my Department does not have any formal authority in this regard. Rather, it is for the proper, regulatory authorities to ensure businesses operating in the financial services industry comply with the legally defined standards of conduct and prudential management.

    My Department does not have a Memorandum of Understanding with Cerberus. However, arrangements are in place whereby my officials meet with representatives of Cerberus on a regular basis to discuss the firm’s activities in Northern Ireland and where they emphasise my expectation that borrowers are treated in a balanced, fair and transparent manner. 29.05.2015

  • Cosmo
  • Gingray

    Patricia, thanks for this, good to see that at least one blogger on Slugger thinks this is worth discussing. As important as the Greek crisis is, I know which story has engaged people in Northern Ireland more.

  • Well, Mick Wallace doesn’t see the point in turning up to any of the committees.

    In a letter seen by RTÉ News, Mr Wallace tells the clerk of the committee that his appearance would not serve any purpose.

    That’s the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee, btw. They’re having an inquiry too, Patricia.

    As for the one “in the north”…

    Meanwhile, the Finance Committee of the Stormont Assembly, which is considering the claims, has said it wants to begin hearing evidence next week.

    It is to invite Mr Wallace along with representatives of NAMA and the Belfast law firm involved to answer questions.

    However, it is understood that Mr Wallace sees no purpose in acceding to that request either. [added emphasis]

    Which sounds about right.

  • Gingray

    Of course it does Pete – the story does not appear to feature Sinn Féin, which is perhaps why you appear to be going to great lengths to pretend there is nothing to see here.

    Mick Wallace just voiced something people have known about for a while – there was something dodgy around NAMA, with rumours linking politicians to cash for support.

    Lets see what comes of it, before prejudging what sounds about right …

  • Redstar2014

    Well well well. Cash,- serious cash -allegedly spirited away by some in high places in our dysfunctional sham up at Stormont

    Who would have believed it.

    This will surely show the majority of us who no longer vote for this discredited pointless expensive Punch n Judy show- that we really should give more credence to our leaders/ betters up on the hill!!!!

    Maybe to get through their latest contrived crisis over lack of funds- they could use some of this alleged back hander cash to straighten the books!!!

    Of course they will investigate themselves- and find they are all as bad as each other- sorry find they are all innocent and squeaky clean

  • Mirrorballman

    Mick is calling for an independent inquiry and has stated he will appear before it. Don’t blame him for not trusting the Politicians on these committees.

  • Brian O’Neill

    With all the legal threats flying around we are being very cautious on this one. Patricia has a legal background so is best able to walk the fine line needed.

  • Niall Chapman

    Jamie Bryson has put himself in hot water, no evidence but a lot of allegation, should be an interesting few weeks for him

  • Niall Chapman
  • Gingray

    A great blog!

  • Gingray

    Brian, this blog rightly went after Sinn Fein during the Maria Cahill affair, and maybe less so when Mary Lou used Dáil privilege last year.

    And Pete largely just cuts and pastes his non space pieces.

    Precedent has been set 🙂

  • kalista63

    I really don’t dig the plague on all their houses craic. We know who’s in the frame and it’s the same party that’s constantly making a joke of us all with long history of obssession in real estate and property deals.

    And its not just us ‘keyboard warriors’ who have this party in the frame, the Irish News is clear in who is at his work, yet again..

    I’d love to know what Baker’s agaenda is, His tactics are those of the lazyest troll, trying to turn Mick Wallace’s virtues in to vices. That worked well for Alan Shatter, didn’t it.

  • Redstar2014

    Get real kalista

    Between jobs for the boys, spads, grossly inflated expenses, outrageous bills/ expenses (. £40k to paint a SF advice centre) etc etc, there’s virtually no party up on the hill who at some stage haven’t / continue to have snouts in the trough. Its a complete farce.

    Yes certain people are at it more than others but bottom line DUP/ SF et al are career politicians who aren’t adverse to shall we say to taking advantage

  • Surveyor

    NO.

    Next!

  • kalista63

    I dig SF screwing the system as I agree with any republican or nationalist doing it, it ain’t our state.

    From Seymour Sweeney through Frazer to Red Sky, one party is lining certain member’s pockets. What’s worse, incidents have physical manifestation such as the poor work received by nationalists by DUP associates.

  • Sergiogiorgio

    Patricia – it was my understanding that the committee cannot compel witnesses to give evidence, similar to the Brimstone farrago. I heard tell from someone on the committee that they can. What’s the reality? I would assume the former as it is not yet a criminal matter.

  • jimmacdonaldstash

    Scandal upon scandal upon scandal, and still some supporters will rally around them calling foul and throwing whataboutry at anyone who says anything. Well I hope the people who will rush to defend them are careful because these are very serious allegations if proven to be true.In a time of austerity with all the job losses and cuts we’re facing.Not to mention the misery associated with the NAMA properties due to the property crash.I wouldn’t want to be standing to close to anyone who would be implicated, if what’s alleged is infact true.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    Stormont committees are a farce, as we saw with the way Brimstone gave evidence and the way Sammy Wilson behaved in his role as a committee member. If witnesses summoned by the committee cannot be held in contempt for failing to co-operate, then any committee inquiry is a complete waste of time and serves no purpose other than to allow people to posture.

  • Janos Bingham

    “I dig SF screwing the system as I agree with any republican or nationalist doing it, it ain’t our state.”

    A position devoid of any morals.

    The monies funding the “system” provide sustenance for all citizens. Or do you believe the NHS or children’s education is only robbed by graft by ‘themuns’?

    Then again given your lack of concern about the squandering of public funds (it’s only ‘British money’ I suppose from your point of view) why are you even worried at all about the prospect of some dodgy cash lining other pockets?

    Envy?

  • Cosmo

    if you are saying the Committee, has no teeth and is a charade – does that mean all these high- flying professionals will just end up billing us, the tax- payers, for their (valuable) time?

  • chrisjones2

    They could call him as a ‘witness’ but I doubt he would spread much light

  • chrisjones2

    It doesnt matter

    Even if proved, even if an MLA – from whatever party except Alliance – was caught wearing a mask, stripey jumper and carrying a bag marked ‘Swag’ stuffed with £50s there will always be another petition of concern

  • chrisjones2

    Here speaks a true Republican!!

  • Old Mortality

    Chris
    It’s passive resistance! The war is over so fill your boots with handouts.

  • Nevin
  • mickfealty

    There’s also this (from my old mucker Gavin): http://url.ie/z25y.

  • mickfealty

    Thanks for the media critique. Now back to the subject.

    Do you have some objection to the mention of the Oireachtas investigation? Or the mention of Mick Wallace’s odd remarks on having his accusations investigated in two jurisdictions?

    Or is that you just don’t like Pete?

    If it’s the last, you are wasting other people’s minds space by playing the man and not the ball. I can, if you really want me to, do something about that. The rest, not so much.

  • mickfealty

    On what grounds?

  • mickfealty

    I recall similar cynicism from you over the PAC’s NI Water story Chris. I don’t know why a careful, inquiry in two jurisdictions with the power to compel witnesses should be so unacceptable.

  • mickfealty

    I think they do have the means to compel witnesses, up to a point. I’d like to hear more of what you think went wrong in the Brimstone case?

  • onionist

    It was pretty obvious from the way fealty & baker reacted that not only it wasn’t SF but that it was DUP in the frame for this.

  • james

    So, just to be clear, Republicans get a pass on stealing because “it ain’t our state”? Would you be similarly comfortable with Republicans building a crime empire in Ireland, as that also “ain’t our state”? In fact, if Republicans are indeed as you suggest stateless, perhaps they should be deported?

  • Sir Rantsalot

    That is really pathetic. You do realise that SF wasting and diverting money away from useful projects, hurts everyone in NI?

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Always felt that the Real Estate-Property-Contracting Industry was one of the most dirtest industries developed. The culture of ‘The Fixer’ between ‘God and Man’. The question always being how much is the fixer worth ? For a young financial auditor they will scroll merrily through all the costs and justify the receipts and expenditures of any project and easily be able to sign it off, but then they will come to the one liner black hole of ‘Consultant Fees’ They will refer back to the original tender and will see a one liner ‘Fees’ after the Costs and Profit Line. The simple auditor will ask ‘whats this for?’ and be politely told that is for the people who had to negotiate the contract.” Who are they and what do they do ?” You don’t need to know will be replied back to them ! But it is not audible they shall say ! All seems power for the course for this Industry in the Private Sector this is its nature and culture but then we charter into the merky waters of the Public Sector ?

  • Gingray

    They are empowered under law, which allows them to compel witnesses, with the threat of imprisonment or a fine. I think.

    Due process was followed in regards Brimstone, there was more to it politically but that was not the purpose of the investigation.

  • Gingray

    Not at all!
    For most of us republicans, politicians stealing money is abhorrent and wrong, it’s cash which could be used for schools, hospitals and roads. The shit that matters.

  • Gingray

    How did you get a yellow card Mick? Um I neither like or dislike Pete, and I enjoy his out of atmosphere articles, a shared interest.

    You promised in the first blog that you would be all over this story, but initially all we got was multiple posts about this really being a storm in a tea cup. I can see from above you view has changed somewhat.

    In regards Pete, he has made more comments below the line on the blogs about NAMA than all other blogs, usually to use selective quotations to downplay the story. Basically you are saying it’s man playing to question why?

  • chrisjones2

    and on the NI Water story you may recall that we ended up with an independent review commissioned by OFMDFM …which never reported.

    My Cynicism is driven by bitter experience. I think it ESSENTIAL that we have the investigations. I would prefer they were conducted by an English police force but I expect very little.

    There are three possibilities

    First it may all be innocent or nonsense. Thats the easy option

    Second it may be criminal. If key MLAs are involved you can bet that MI5 have been all over this from the start and if it could be levered to advantage it will have been. If those involved are “critical to the peace process (TM)” then it will be ‘;not in the public interest’ to prosecute or just made to go away in return for help on some issues like keeping Stormont afloat. It will all be in our best interests of course

    Third if it falls short of criminal it may be politically reprehensible but so what? There’s always a super-injunction on the grounds that it will impact on the mental well being of the MLA, their husband or wife, mistress, son, daughter, Granny or their child’s hamster. If the facts are ever exposed the Petition of Concern will protect those involved from sanction.

    Another 5% may then just stop voting and the right wing fringe religious nut jobs will continue vote for THEIR party no matter what as their life is defined by stopping homosexualists marrying and women in desperate positions having abortions in NI and sticking one up to themuns at every opportunity

    We get the Government we deserve.

  • jimmacdonaldstash

    That get out of jail card will ultimately destroy a party politically in the eyes of the more astute electorate in a situation like this.Let them use it,let them stonewall, the damage is done even if its all proven false.Dirt sticks and there has been dirt upon dirt upon dirt.I’m surprised they can move.

  • Granni Trixie

    Chris
    You can’t just say “except Alliance” and leave it as that. Perhaps you mean that the public expect more of APNI and so would punish them whereas they seem to let off other parties should there be evidence of corruption.

    As APNI supporter I certainly do not give Alliance Leaders a blank cheque so the impact would be internal as well as from voters. why members of political parties seem to live with evidence of ahem conflict of interests etc I just don’t know.

  • Niall Chapman

    Yeah, I read through it, he’s not the best writer but he’s put together a good story, but as you say, its doubtful that he could give any evidence to back-up what he’s said

  • Granni Trixie

    Could you clarify – is the party which is obsessed with ” real estate” etc the same party obsessed with anything remotely connected to sexual practice? If so, I wonder what forges connections?

  • chrisjones2

    So does JK Rowling!!!

  • Granni Trixie

    So what you’re telling us is that you justify dishonesty? Do you regRd yourself as “honest”. Would you rob for the cause? You can’t criticise others who steal if you have such a standard.

    Just the way I was brought up but I actually believe it is important to try to be honest be it personally or collectively.

  • mickfealty

    By tight reporting in *some* sections of the press (and this blog) it managed to bring the suspension of a PERM SEC (the first in NI history and only the second in the 160 year history of the modern UK civil service).

  • mickfealty

    One thing I will fight for is the right to have diverse views on the matter. That includes me resisting the pressure to fall in with readers’ (democratically expressed) views regarding what I should and should not be blogging about. I hear ya, but I don’t think the comparison is reasonable or a proper fit with where we are at this stage.

  • Sergiogiorgio

    “I’m not prepared to comment on internal party matters”.

    ” I refer to my previous answer”

  • Sergiogiorgio

    It’s meaningless if they “no comment” a la Brimstone. A panel of poorly educated politicians questioning some of the brightest lawyers and business men out there….you decide.

    IT STINKS.

  • Mirrorballman

    On the grounds that they don’t have the experience or skills to get to the bottom of this.

  • chrisjones2

    Fair comment – and more than Westminster achieved and most fo it down to Slugger. .

    But he was stiffed for misconduct in whipping up an attack on those asking impertinent questions. Noone was ever disciplined for the discrimination in appointments or the huge costs in legal fees etc – indeed I think some of that is still due for trial isn’t it?

  • mickfealty

    I don’t know. It was five years ago now, believe it or not. My point is that sitting back passively expecting the institutions to deliver something for us as consumer/citizens is not enough.

    That ‘sacking’ would not have come to light if it had not been for some grim determination on the part of some of the protagonists (most of Slugger’s readers must have feared for my sanity that silly season).

    The better we understand the system the harder it is for people to game it. The problem going forwards is that it’s only going to get more complex and harder to understand for the wider public. Alienation and drift into simple minded populism ensues.

  • chrisjones2

    I totally agree. My cynicism about the end result wont stop me turning over the stones or supporting those who do

    Sunlight is the most effective disinfectant

    …. and its all such fun

  • chrisjones2

    …you missed out the PR industry ……. even greasier than Estate Agents

  • mickfealty

    I’ll give you better grounds. They won’t find what they are looking for, because it won’t sit inside the *competence of the committee* to investigate the matters which are animating most people on this matter…

  • Catcher in the Rye

    I dig SF screwing the system as I agree with any republican or nationalist doing it, it ain’t our state.
    Republicans and nationalists pay rates and taxes the same as anyone else. It is the local Assembly which allocates cash to expenses and away from other public services. It doesn’t harm the British – it harms local people here.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    Yes.

    If the committee summons people from Tughan’s or whatever they are free not to attend. If they do attend they are free to simply not answer any questions. They can cite client confidentiality, professional integrity or whatever.

    A committee investigation is a complete waste of time. The committee should step aside and call for a full inquiry by the PSNI and the Serious Fraud Office. The outcome of those inquiries in turn should feed into any disciplinary actions to be taken against MLAs or Ministers by Stormont authorities.

  • onionist

    Secret meetings, U-Turns and panic

    Move over welfare “reform” and parade season, politics this summer is going to be very interesting 🙂

  • chrisjones2

    No Granny. Its simple. Alliance have no friends on the Hill and if they were ever caught the rest would be happy to throw them to the wolves