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Man who transferred £7 million from Nama deal explains why he did it...

… but only to those ‘entitled’ to know.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

THE MAN AT the centre of allegations surrounding £7 million transferred to an Isle of Man account from the proceeds of a Nama sale has broken his silence and said no politician received any money from the deal.

Ian Coulter, formerly of Belfast legal firm Tughans, issued a statement following remarks made by Independent TD Mick Wallace in the Dáil earlier this month.

The Wexford deputy told the Dáil how this Northern Ireland loanbook, Project Eagle, was sold for €1.5 billion to a US private equity firm despite having been worth €4.5 billion.

Nama has said it is satisfied that “the process delivered the best possible return that could have been achieved for Irish taxpayers” following advice received from an investment bank.

Wallace added that a routine audit of a legal firm involved in the process, Tughans of Belfast, revealed that “£7 million sterling ended up in an Isle of Man bank account… reportedly earmarked for a Northern Ireland politician”.

PastedImage-64247 Ian Coulter, pictured here in 2012. Source: Screenshot via CBI/YouTube

Coulter, who has since stepped down from Tughans, said in a statement released to the media:

“No politician, nor any relative of any politician in Northern Ireland, was ever to receive any monies in any way as part of this deal.”

This was never discussed, assumed nor expected.

“I have not received any personal financial benefit for my work on this transaction. Neither I nor any third party has received any part of the £7.5 million fees.”

Coulter explained the fees – payable to Tughan for their role in advising the buyer of Project Eagle – were paid into a company account. He then directed the finance director to transfer “the remaining portion” into an account controlled only by him, but “not a penny” was touched.

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But why did he do it? Well…

The reason for the transfer is a complex, commercially- and legally-sensitive issue and has been explained to my former partners at Tughans. It will be explained to the appropriate authorities and those entitled to that information as part of my continuing co-operation with any investigation.

And was it found during a “routine audit”, as alleged by Deputy Wallace?

The money which was transferred to an external account was not “discovered” or “retrieved” by the Law Society or Tughans during an audit, as some reports have incorrectly stated. In fact, I transferred the money back to Tughans in early December 2014 and I brought this to their attention.

Tughans said it “strongly disagrees” with Coulter’s version of events “surrounding the treatment, discovery and retrieval of the professional fees and his exit from the practice and it has passed all documentation relating to this to the Law Society”.

The UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) has confirmed that it will investigate the sale of Northern Irish assets owned by NAMA.

Read: ‘No one in my family got one penny from the Nama deal’ >

About the author:

Nicky Ryan

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