UPDATED: So Martin McGuinness was in on the ground floor of the NAMA MoU after all…

So the deputy First Minister knew all about the NAMA Memorandum of Understanding after all

SINN Féin Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness was present during a conference call where the controversial sale of Nama’s Project Eagle Northern Ireland loan book was discussed.

Mr McGuinness and Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson were joined by Finance Minister Michael Noonan during the call in January last year.
Crucially, minutes of the telephone conversation show a letter of intent provided by investment company Pimco was discussed during the call.

Pimco was in the running for the loan book until the firm’s compliance staff informed Nama that a former Nama advisor, Frank Cushnahan, stood to earn Stg£5m in fees should the company win the bid.

Nama expressed concerns about this and Pimco subsequently stepped out of the bidding process leaving two other bidders – Cerberus, which ultimately bought the €1.6bn portfolio, and Fortress.

Mr McGuinness told the Northern Assembly’s Committee on Finance and Personnel last week he was never consulted about the Pimco letter of intent.

Which is not at all what Martin McGuinness told the Finance and Personnel Committee at Stormont last week..

UPDATE: This appears to be where the dFM’s evidence seems to falls apart

  • Robin Keogh

    Ha! Nice try Mick. I note u didnt quote the Sinn Fein response as it doesnt fit the conspiracy story. ( Save us from the suir of modern reporting )

    Anyway, if i could tear you away from the contortions just for a sec. The letter was ‘ mentioned ‘ apparently in a conference call. It was not discussed at a senior level between Robbo and Martin which is what Robbo should have done in the first place. If the head of the swish family Robinson has nothing to hide maybe he could explain why the bulk of his communications on the matter were not shared with his equal in his department and why adequete notes were not made in his diary?

    These answers would shine a far brighter light on procedings and be of more benifit in getting to the bottom of the mess rather than destracting with creative INM blanks fired on a daily basis. Marty told the hearing he knew nothing of the meetings, this has not ( as far as i am aware) been proven to be innacurate.

  • mickfealty

    A wonderfully ‘bureaucratic’ answer Robin (the party statement is not on the site: http://goo.gl/HQCms which indicates they want no record of it kept).

    It appears this ‘suggestion’ was sent to NAMA for information, rather than as an official proposal as such. After which this crude ‘proposal’ appears to have had no life at all, ie, it appears to have been BINNED.

    If there was an offence, then Martin appears to have been up to his neck in it. You may wish to believe that, but I’ve seen no evidence that a good part of this story has been anything other than utter crud from the start.

    In which case, Martin’s performance at the FP committee is pure AmDram. The lady doth protest too much, methinks?

    There is still the far more serious enquiry by the NCA and the US Department of Justice, but I’ve yet to be convinced they’ll be ringing ‘Stormont Castle’ to speak to either man…

  • Jack fotheringham

    Only proper to include the SF response
    “The conference call with Minister Noonan is a matter of public record and was highlighted by Martin McGuinness at the Assembly Committee meeting last week.

    Martin McGuiness was not  involved in the drafting, nor did he consent to the correspondence referred to in the call with Minister Noonan. He was kept in the dark of the nature and extent of meeting and correspondence on this matter.”

  • New Yorker

    “Crucially, minutes of the telephone conversation show a letter of intent
    provided by investment company Pimco was discussed during the call.”

    “Mr McGuinness told the Northern Assembly’s Committee on Finance and
    Personnel last week he was never consulted about the Pimco letter of
    intent.”

    There is a direct contradiction between the two sentences. Either the Republic’s Department of Finance or McGuinness is lying. If you are in on a conference call where an important document is being discussed, you make sure you have read the document. This should not be difficult to verify since there were several people present.

  • Cosmo

    It is important for forthcoming ROI election, that the incumbent Kenny govt demonstrates that the incumbent SF up north, are also implicated in the ( mis) management of NAma sell-offs, so SF can’t play the ‘purity’/ righteous indignation card too strongly.
    I agree with Fealty view, that ultimately legal charges will not stick. The fees, skims and professional charges, will all be deemed ‘legal’, even if unethically greedy.

  • Mister_Joe

    It wouldn’t be the first time that I had a nap during a boring meeting. BTW, I’m not a fan of SF as everyone here should know.

  • gendjinn
  • Redstar

    I am staunchly anti SF, but this is a total non story. MMG ( wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him) has already stated in his evidence that he was there for this conference call.

  • Mary Anna Quigley

    It is the punch & judy show, born to lie, 45 years only way to move forward is to make it up as you move along the gravy train- Lie tell me lies , tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies》》》on your way up the greasy pole untrustworthy. Brass neck, daddy cult thrive on denial. Die for lies. Born liar.

  • mickfealty

    Thanks Jack, although Robin already gave us the gist. So Martin’s own evidence to the FP committee blows a hole in, er, his own evidence to the FP Committee.

  • Zeno

    Mr M McGuinness: I had no knowledge of the meetings. If I was not being told that the meetings were taking place, I was certainly kept in the dark.

  • PeterBrown

    And all this ignores the Q&A between Wells and DFM at the Committee where Wells referred to an email to DFM’s SPAD attaching the MoU

    “Mr Wells: I just wanted to establish the fact that this is a former MLA that we are dealing with, someone with considerable legal nous and understanding. I have before me an email from David McCreedy of OFMDFM to Dara O’Hagan dated 19 December 2013. Are you aware of that memo?

    Mr M McGuinness: No.

    Mr Wells: That email states, “NAMA document, as discussed”. It refers to a memorandum of understanding dated December 2013 from BRAVO Strategies, and, of course, we know who BRAVO Strategies are. I have in my hand the document that was attached to that email to Dara O’Hagan. Are you telling me that Dara O’Hagan did not make you aware of the existence of that memorandum of understanding?

    Mr M McGuinness: I do not know the veracity of what you are saying, but, working on the basis of what you are saying, if Dara O’Hagan judged, as a senior adviser in the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister, that I should not be involved in that, it would not have come to me”

  • chrisjones2

    Stormont is all a greasy pork barrel and they are all in it together. Every time the lights go on they all scramble not to be caught

    Time to go?

  • Gopher

    Is there any sanction for lying to a Stormont commitee?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    You would think so – but after Peter Hain getting away without sanction with lying to Parliament over OTRs (deeply misleading answers to two MPs’ questions on the floor of the House of Commons), I’m not holding my breath for ministers to be brought to book over untruths. But we need some law on this, it’s getting ridiculous. We’re not Italy 😉

  • Gopher

  • MainlandUlsterman

    If only we had more people with the moral integrity of Mr Vole running the Province

  • mjh

    Fair enough Mister Joe – but I bet you’d stay awake for £1.3bn

  • Gingray

    Good to see one of them caught out in his lie, tho this story seems to have went by largely unnoticed by the general public, and its already slipped down the BBCNI website.

    Mick do you think everything Robinson did was above board, I know you have been more excited about cathcing SF out, but I still am baffled at why Peter Robinson would arrange a meeting with a former US Vice President without alerting the media. Dan Quayle met at Stormont Castle on March 25 2014 with Peter Robinson, Simon Hamilton and Ian Coulter. Do you think Marty knew about this?

  • mickfealty

    I’ve no reason to think other than that Martin knew about all of these meetings. What the DofF minutes reveal is a proposal scotched at the earliest stage. I don’t see any wrongdoing by either man at that stage.

    So far the only think from Mick Wallace that has stood the test of time is the £7 million. Pretty much everything else appears to be either in the insufficient evidence or actual red herring file.

    As for my excitement or otherwise, let’s be clear here about what Martin’s been caught doing (see the #StormontUnspun thread linked above). He concocted a lie which he’d been selling to the press and fed it to the FP committee.

    It’s another bogus tweet moment in which you use the bias of the press to do your dirty work for you. Some journos will just see that as being all in a day’s work, others I think may feel cheated.

    As for actual wrongdoing, we are no wiser. I don’t see it, but that could be a matter of interpretation as far as the politics is concerned. Now Martin is ‘implicated’ I fully expect the ardour of the press to cool dramatically.

  • Zeno

    I think it was Newton Emerson who asked the question, how is it that an Irish TD and a Loyalist Flegger know more about what goes on in the OFMDFM than Martin McGuinness does?

  • Gingray

    I doubt we will ever have actual proof of any wrongdoing, but it is fairly obvious something dodgy was going on. I dont think McGuinness was, for once, part of that dodgyness, and there appears to be a good claim that he was kept in the dark over certain aspects of the sale, but the eejit has over egged his ignorance.

    I still think this story has legs, and NAMA is still on the front page of the BT and BBC today, but Coulter has had months to prepare for this after the £7m was identified internally.

  • Gingray

    To get Emerson his dues, he is objective around all of this, and does not have a fixation on SF.

  • Thomas Girvan

    It would seem that Dr Alistair McDonnell was right in what he said about Martin McGuinness.
    Alex Maskey owes him an apology.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    As you are probably aware Mick, I’m not exactly an apologist for SF, but I’ve had all too many meetings at the inception of a film, only to find that shady deals were being hatched privately under my radar, some of which were intended to cut me out entirely, while others relied on my (soon canvased) support to be landed. Martin has been caught out regarding his knowledge of the January negotiations, but this does not mean that things with serious implications have not been going on outside of his line of vision. It is perhaps more telling if he was not fully informed about the 25 March meeting at Stormont castle. As you say, the £7,000,000 issue has not yet satisfactorily accounted for, and this would perhaps appear to concern only DUP ministers (if anyone). If he was simply attempting to streamline his case by leaving out those issues that would have reviled relative rather than total ignorance go what was going on, it would due a great pity, for as you say this question on his credibility really clouds the water. And if he were fully aware of every aspect of the discussions……..

  • Zeno

    I agree. I think Mc Guinness made a huge mistake with his claim that suggested he didn’t know anything about any of it. I’d say he probably was excluded from some bits and would have been better focusing on that.

  • Zeno

    Reading between the lines I’d say you are suggesting that our Politicians tell fibs. You could well be right.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    You may well be right too, Zeno.

  • Zeno
  • Gopher

    If I may add the entire legal system appears to be enjoying the distraction of the pantomime on the hill. Think David Ford missed trick to be front and centre on this.

  • barnshee

    Bankers are ahem supposed to be “prudent” (or rapacious bastards if you prefer)
    When they lend they require ” security” simply they will secure their loan on any property involved. Being “prudent” they will also ask for “personal guarantees” to make up any deficit –in the event the property charge is insufficient.

    It would appear

    http://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/northern-ireland-news/document-robinson-sent-to-nama-echoed-proposals-in-earlier-bid-letter-1-6845586

    that the MOU was an attempt to get the personal guarantees (in the North?) scrubbed and leave NAMA with whatever proceeds the charged property generated and letting thosegiving the guarantees off the hook. NAMA appear to have told them to foxtrot oscar.

    Who would have benefited from cancellation of the guarantees? -now there IS the rub

  • just watching

    it was not that long ago Mick was telling us to move along nothing to see hear now he wants to muddie the waters ?

  • Cosmo

    Is the (refused) MOU, actually available to be read under FOI request, in either jurisdiction??
    On some levels, as it’s reported in N Letter it seems to be trying to do some ‘good’ for NI – set up an office etc; but yes, certainly does seem to be trying to negotiate a very big favour for the property developer/borrowers too…..

  • Reader

    But there was nothing to see, until someone was caught out.

  • northstar

    The man helped – we are told by Mi5 etc – to mastermind the fall of Unionist Ulster over 30 yrs. He withstood interrogation several times but was only convicted on membership. He withstood cross-examination at Saville.
    Then he went on the Internet at a highly publicised Committee and mentioned a fon-call which cud implicate him in something and told a lie during that testimony. Hmmmm! Nah! Sounds more like wishful thinking by some others with an agenda of sorts.

  • Pigeon Toes

    Just noticed Robinson’s acceptance of the invite to appear before the Ni Finance Committee… Still using the Office Headed paper and signing himself off as First Minister…

  • Kev Hughes

    Maybe it’s the fact that I have been a company secretary for boards for years now but a few things that I would love cleared up:

    ‘SINN Féin Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness was present during a conference call where the controversial sale of Nama’s Project Eagle Northern Ireland loan book was discussed.’

    Ok.

    ‘Mr McGuinness and Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson were joined by Finance Minister Michael Noonan during the call in January last year.’

    Again, OK.

    ‘Crucially, minutes of the telephone conversation show a letter of intent provided by investment company Pimco was discussed during the call.’

    Did MMG have sight of this letter? Did he have sight of the minutes of the meeting? Who took the minutes of the meeting? Did he approve the minutes of the meeting or lodge an objection to them? I’m sorry, but I’m not off to watch a 2 hour long meeting so a simple yes or no here would suffice.

    ‘Pimco was in the running for the loan book until the firm’s compliance staff informed Nama that a former Nama advisor, Frank Cushnahan, stood to earn Stg£5m in fees should the company win the bid.’

    Was this discussed during the call? Yes or no will suffice.

    ‘Nama expressed concerns about this and Pimco subsequently stepped out of the bidding process leaving two other bidders – Cerberus, which ultimately bought the €1.6bn portfolio, and Fortress.’

    Was this discussed during the call? If so, what did MMG say about this?

    ‘Mr McGuinness told the Northern Assembly’s Committee on Finance and Personnel last week he was never consulted about the Pimco letter of intent.’

    Unless you’re able to provide answers to the above then he wouldn’t be lying. A letter may have been presented, but it wouldn’t mean he was consulted on it or was there something above that I’ve missed? Again, simple yes or no will help clarify the matter.

  • barnshee

    Still waiting a reply to an FOI request

  • Pigeon Toes

    The “Note” of the above was produced some two months later, not quite the same as “minutes”. The prominent references therein relate to the former First Minister and his comments….. There is no reference to any input by DFM. In fairness, he did refer to this conference call

  • New Yorker

    “Did MMG have sight of this letter?” He is the DFM and this was an important document. If he had not seen it, he should have said ‘give me a copy of the letter and we can resume as soon as I have read it’. It is possible this is the document referred to recently regarding his SPAD. The bottom line is that he either read the letter or should have: If it is the prior, he lied; if the latter, he is incompetent.

  • Kev Hughes

    Hi NY,

    You see, I think you’ve skipped to the end without asking the obvious; what do the minutes say happened here? He ‘should’ve’ seen this letter? A meeting with so many on it wouldn’t be stopped so abruptly with someone saying ‘I haven’t seen this letter so we can’t go on’, sorry, but that’s not how this works in the real world. You’re also making the assumptions as to the MoU’s state of condition at that point.

    You would have a case for incompetence but until we get answers as to what actually happened at this meeting and the condition of documentation presented or promises made on the documents I think there’s more questions raised than conclusions to suddenly leap to, probably tinged by people’s preformed opinions on MMG.

  • Kev Hughes

    A note? Maybe that’s how this happens for government departments but id still want to see it, and then apply my questions for minutes to it. If it’s actually just a ‘note’ then I’m amazed such a call had so little in the way of evidence of what was discussed at the meeting. I could jump to a number of conclusions here from the nefarious ‘they didn’t want people to know what they discussed’ to less paranoid of ‘it was an exploratory meeting kicking something off and may have been light on detail specifics’.

    Again, if we have no sight of the minutes or supporting docs then I’m reluctant to jump to too many conclusions, unlike, say, this article or the usual crowd here.

  • Kev Hughes

    You and me both PT.

  • Pigeon Toes

    Given the time frame, these notes can hardly be called contemporaneous. Therefore, it would be interesting to see same notes/minutes from OFM/DFM, if now such exist

  • Kev Hughes

    They’d be high level outlines, lacking in detail and akin to bullet points with action points if they’ve been drafted so long afterwards IMHO.

    What I’d like to know is if these meetings are recorded for posterity and to make sure that whatever document that’s produced is accurate in its descriptions. Apologies if it’s been noted before but this sounds like it was a conference call as opposed to a video conference, most likely then using a service provider like say AT&T, for example. Those calls have the function to record. All speculation on my part but still, I’d love to know their internal governance on such practicalities.

  • Pigeon Toes

    Unless the DUP can produce an agreed statement from DFM of “agreeing the minutes” or note of same….

  • Pigeon Toes

    Ah, perhaps Kev you are assuming such governance exists in er government… Normally these are referred to in “independent investigations” /cover-ups as “bad practice/errors of judgement giving rise to the perception of…” I expect the same will happen here

  • Pigeon Toes

    There’s a very obvious line of questioning there 🙂

  • Pigeon Toes

    Nope, the question for me is why was it only worth the “note” that length of time afterwards? And again, there should be the same on the Northern side, and it should already have been released.

  • chrisjones2

    …or Peter Robinson it may seem

  • Kev Hughes

    I know PT, it’s a stretch and it’s easy to assume the worst here of civil servants and all and sundry nowadays. For matters such as these though you’d often be surprised at the skills and procedures in place for this. I’ve seen them on courses before and they’re not often the stereotype we’d love to think.

    But your point is taken and well made.

  • Kev Hughes

    That’s a good point too. It can be for any number of reasons of course; they’re hiding something, or it was a sketchy few minutes talking about something high level and not determined at the time, so really a kick off meeting or exploratory talks.

    I note in Mick’s original quote that there are minutes but now we’re saying its a note; can we clarify first what it is and has anyone got sight of either?

  • Cosmo

    From what I understand, the Special Assistants to the FMDM Office, are not under the same rules and procedures as civil servants. Isn’t this one of the things Allister was getting a petition up about.

  • Nimn

    Thread is too long and haven’t time to read all other articles here, so my point may have been covered.
    It relates to Jim Wells’ PAC evidence where he evidences an email from David McCreedy in OFMdFM to Dara O’Hagan which begins “As discussed”.
    I would like to know what the detail of the previous discussion between David McCreedy and Dara O’Hagan as part of the document trail. Was the discussion was in the order of “I’ll send you the MoU for info” or “I’m sending you the MoU as you really need to see and discuss this” then that would be good to know.
    Can either David McCreedy or Dara O’Hagan be asked to supply clarity on what was discussed before the e-mail was sent with the MoU attachment?

  • Kev Hughes

    That’s interesting Cosmo, do we have the attendance list of this phone call? Was there no civil servants in attendance? Are SPADs prevented from attending meetings that civil servants are attending and vice versa?

  • Cosmo

    Where I think the SPAD asst to MMcG was mentioned, was as to whether she had actually passed on the MOU memo to McG, in the previous December 2013 (prior to the phone call.) In the Finance Committee Investigation meeting, MMcG said, he had not received it, but left matters of that kind up to her discretion.

  • Kev Hughes

    That’s actually a fair enough response but raises more questions than it answers. I’d like to know what state the MOU was in at the time.

    I’m reminded of what someone who worked at the Daily Express when writing a piece ‘it must be free from irony’. I’m also reminded of dealing with auditors and how they work when reviewing what we do; usually they drain how things work in the real world and chastise you for not following a particular line. Here, it would be MMG allegedly not reading the MOU ‘you didn’t read it? It’s such a big deal!’. It is now, then it could’ve been a document in draft format or whatever

  • Cosmo

    I agree, it’s perfectly feasible, that MMcG would be leaving ‘this one up to Peter to run with’. (Although, he is indignant, he didn’t know about Quayle’s visit.)
    Undoubtedly, it’s in PR’s (and Noonan’s) interests, to show MMcG was informed and briefed in the normal manner, to show that things were above board. And if MmCg did not ‘know’ it was not intentional, but just MmCG’s ‘fault’.
    For MMcG, it is surely a balancing act between distancing his SFein from NAMA; and looking dozy and negligent as a DMinister/Director.

  • Kev Hughes

    Couldn’t agree more Cosmo, but I just want to focus on the what and how as opposed to the why, which is political.

  • Cosmo

    Did you ever track the interactions ref Harcourt Developments and Govt depts, representatives and ministers ( Arlene, PW) over the Titanic Quarter developments and the Govt buildings shifted there. Always, seemed a bit of a lifesaver for Harcourt?

  • Kev Hughes

    I didn’t have the pleasure Cosmo, though as someone who does this line of work often I try and stay away from it afterwork.

    In this instance something in the quoted in the text just seemed a little wooly for my liking, hence my piping up. Hopefully more details come through, then I’d say a real opinion could be formed.

  • Pigeon Toes

    Here’s the note http://finance.gov.ie/sites/default/files/39.%202014%2001%2014%20%20Minister%20Noonan%20-%20Peter%20Robinson%20-%20Martin%20McGuinness%20Call%20Note.pdf

    The note is dated as an attachment to an email on 20th March 2014, so about a week after PIMCO withdrew from the process….

  • Kev Hughes

    Excellent stuff PT.

    Is the letter of intent now the MOU? I’m guessing (sorry, I don’t like making assumptions as personally I’d have said these are separate documents) so.

    That’s a fairly innocuous call though and seems to he PR doing the talking.

    Mick’s post refers to minutes though or is that incorrect? That note doesn’t mention an MOU being discussed earlier, I could be mistaken. The time to make that also leaves me unimpressed (theirs a spelling mistake of ‘nay’ instead of ‘any’) and suggests a rush job.

  • Pigeon Toes

    I’d have thought these were also two separate documents and Frank Daly in his evidence to PAC appears to make further reference to this “On 17 January 2014, NAMA received from the Principal Private Secretary to the NI First Minister a copy of a ‘letter of intent’ relating to the proposed management of the NI portfolio. The letter appeared to summarise an agreement between PIMCO and the NI Executive and its purpose was to require the
    purchaser of the portfolio to enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Government of Northern Ireland confirming certain fundamental conditions relating to the future management of the portfolio. NAMA did not engage further in relation to the draft letter.”http://www.finance.gov.ie/sites/default/files/Frank%20Daly%20-%20Opening%20Address%20to%20the%20PAC%20-%209%20July%202015.pdf
    Without sight of the letter sent, then it will be hard to ascertain whether that’s the case. I don’t think this has been released 🙂

  • Pigeon Toes

    Maybe it’s just me, but my understanding of a “note” is a one-sided view-point, and “minutes” are agreed by those involved. Interesting that DoF didn’t follow that up, with copies of the correspondence involved….