Graham tapes feature at least one DUP politician

Businessman Gareth Graham (second from left) leaving Stormont yesterday after speaking to the Nama inquiry
Susan Thompson and Gary McDonald

AT least one DUP politician features on the hundreds of hours of recordings held by businessman Gareth Graham's solicitors, The Irish News understands.

The existence of the tapes was confirmed yesterday during dramatic evidence given to Stormont's finance committee by Mr Graham, whose family owns the Sean Graham bookmakers chain and property businesses.

He would not comment on the people featured in the recordings other than to confirm that they are calls made by former Nama advisor Frank Cushnahan while he was chairman of the controlling company of Sean Graham from 2005 to 2008.

The Irish News understands that the tapes include him speaking to at least one DUP politician.

Mr Cushnahan, who was yesterday understood to be seeing a heart specialist following ill health, is at the centre of the Nama scandal.

He is said to have been in line for a payment of £5m from Pimco, a US investment company which had previously failed to buy the 'Project Eagle' loans from Nama.

The Pimco bid fell through after it was revealed that Mr Cushnahan, who had just months earlier resigned as an advisor to Nama, was involved in the bid.

The tapes pre-date the Nama deal by more than three years but it is understood they could shed light on professional and business practices in some parts of Northern Ireland prior the £1.3bn sale to US investment company Cerberus.

The integrity of the sale was called into question after an allegation that a payment of £7m, linked to the Cerberus purchase, had been made to Belfast law firm Tughans.

Mr Graham told the committee yesterday that that he believed the recordings illustrate an "ingrained culture of inappropriate and possibly illegal conduct" spanning political, legal, banking and accountancy sectors.

Meanwhile, Stormont's finance committee yesterday voted to call loyalist blogger and flag protester Jamie Bryson to give evidence at its inquiry.

DUP members and an Alliance MLA attempted to block the invitation to Mr Bryson, who had written to the committee claiming to have relevant information.

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