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Peter Robinson's son denies involvement in Nama deal

Gareth Robinson denied involvement in the 850-property portfolio sale
Brendan Hughes

FIRST Minister Peter Robinson's son has denied any involvement in the Nama property portfolio scandal that has rocked Stormont.

The Irish News previously revealed the Belfast law firm at the centre of the allegations has links to former DUP councillor Gareth Robinson.

Tughans carried out work that saw US investment firm Cerberus buy Nama's northern property loans last year for £1.3bn.

Gareth Robinson's public relations company Verbatim Communications was paid thousands of pounds by Tughans to manage an event hosted by the solicitors' firm in 2012.

DUP leader Peter Robinson was a guest speaker at the exclusive reception held at Queen's University building Riddel Hall.

It is understood Verbatim was hired to manage the event by then managing partner of Tughans, Ian Coulter.

Mr Coulter, who left the firm in January, is at the centre of serious allegations surrounding the Nama sale.

Tughans has said £7m was diverted to an offshore account controlled by him without the firm's knowledge.

It followed claims in the Dáil last week that money had been earmarked for a Northern Ireland politician.

Last night Gareth Robinson said he had no involvement in the Nama sale in April last year.

In a statement to the Irish News, he said Verbatim fully supports all investigations into concerns raised over the deal.

"No Verbatim Communications Ltd employees or representatives facilitated or were in any way involved in the sale of Nama assets to Cerberus," he said.

"Neither the company nor anyone representing the company benefited from the Cerberus/Nama transaction nor did they ever expect to."

A source has said Verbatim may have been paid up to £4,000 for the Tughans event in 2012.

Gareth Robinson said: "On one occasion, three years ago, Verbatim Communications Ltd was engaged by Tughans to assist with a very successful event relating to third-level education.

"Verbatim Communications Ltd acts in a professional and ethical manner at all times and any suggestion to the contrary will be vigorously challenged."

Tughans is believed to have recommended some of its clients to use Gareth Robinson and Verbatim.

It is understood that several clients who took up the offer were being managed by Nama.

The Irish News also understands that Frank Cushnahan, a former Nama Northern Ireland adviser who had an office in the Tughans' building, recommended companies to use Mr Robinson and Verbatim.

One of the companies who used Verbatim was Lagan Homes which is part of the Lagan Group.

On Monday First Minister Peter Robinson revealed to The Irish News that he met top US investment firm Pimco when it considered buying the Nama portfolio.

The firm but did not proceed with a deal after expressing concerns with Nama over proposed fee arrangements with Mr Cushnahan.

DUP leader Mr Robinson has unequivocally denied that he received or was due to receive any proceeds related to the Nama loan sale.

Gareth Robinson said: "At no time has Verbatim Communications Ltd been employed by Nama, Pimco or Cerberus."

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