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Dublin: 4 °C Wednesday 11 December, 2019
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Peter Robinson strongly denies explosive new allegations about Nama deal

The DUP leader faces new allegations about the controversial disposal of Nama’s Northern property portfolio.

Peter Robinson
Peter Robinson
Image: AP/Press Association Images

Updated at 10:55pm

AN INQUIRY INTO Nama’s disposal of its Northern Ireland portfolio has heard an allegation that DUP leader Peter Robinson was one of five people who received a payment as a result of the deal.

But in a statement this afternoon, Robinson strongly denied the claims, describing them as “scurrilous and unfounded”.

Prominent loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson told the Stormont inquiry that money was paid into an Isle of Man bank account controlled by Belfast solicitors’ firm Tughans.

Robinson, the North’s former first minister, had already previously denied he was to receive any payment or benefit as a result of the deal, which saw Nama’s NI portfolio sold to the American group Cerberus for £1.2 billion (€1.6 billion) last year.

Robinson repeated that denial today, saying: “I repeat, I neither received, expected to receive, sought, nor was I offered a single penny as a result of the Nama sale.

The allegations made today lack credibility and can have no evidential basis. The scripted performance was little short of pantomime. It is outrageous that such scurrilous and unfounded allegations can be made without providing one iota of evidence.

The DUP MLA said he was happy to appear before the Stormont inquiry.

Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 15.14.55 Jamie Bryson

Bryson also alleged that solicitor Ian Coulter, accountant David Watters, ex-NAMA advisor Frank Cushanhan and developer Andrew Creighton were also to be beneficiaries from the deal.

Cushnahan has previously told the inquiry in a written submission that he never had any “meetings, dealings, correspondence or contact of any kind” with Cerberus or its representatives.

Coulter has said the cash was moved to the Isle of Man for “a complex, commercially and legally-sensitive” reason. He said that no politician, or their relatives, was to receive payment from the deal.

Bryson said his information had been given to him by sources which he would not reveal. He said that the evidence could be seized by the UK’S National Crime Agency (NCA) which is investigating the deal.

Also today, the North’s deputy first minister and Sinn Féin MLA, Martin McGuinness, told the inquiry that he had been “kept in the dark” over the transaction.

McGuinness claimed in his evidence that he had been excluded from an important meeting with the company that eventually bought the portfolio.

Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 15.16.59 Martin McGuinness

He also said that an important memorandum of understanding had been sent to authorities in Dublin without his knowledge or approval.  

McGuinness said that the deal “raises very serious questions in relation to what capacity the first minister [Robinson] was acting.”

Background

The investigations into the Nama deal began in July after the independent TD Mick Wallace claimed in the Dáil that an independent audit of Tughans, which was involved in the sale, found that €9.8 million (£7 million)  had been diverted into an Isle of Man account.

Some of this money, he claimed on the Dáil record, was “reportedly earmarked for a Northern Ireland politician or political party”.

Nama chairman Frank Daly has previously told the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee the state’s so-called bad bank a had no knowledge of the alleged payment until it was brought into the public domain by Wallace.

He also said there was no reason at the time to question why Cerberus would have made payments after the sale to both Tughans and another law firm, Brown Rudnick.

Nama, he said, subsequently received an assurance from Cerberus that no fees were paid to any party with a connection to Nama.

First published at 5:05pm

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

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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