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Questions raised over NCA probe into Nama scandal

The NCA is facing criticism over its Nama probe

Questions have been asked about the National Crime Agency's (NCA) probe into what a Stormont scrutiny committee chairman has dubbed "potentially the biggest property and political scandal in living history".

Both unionist and nationalist politicians have voiced concern that there has been no public indication of the NCA moving decisively in its investigation into the circumstances surrounding the sale of Nama's northern debt portfolio.

The criticism came after businessman Gareth Graham said he had spoken to the NCA more than a month ago.

However, it is understood the agency has not seized the hundreds of hours of recordings belonging to his company which he claims illustrate an "ingrained culture of inappropriate and possibly illegal conduct" spanning the political, legal, banking and accountancy sectors.

There has also been no indication that any of the main protagonists linked to the £7m lodged in Isle of Man bank account and linked to Cerberus's £1.3bn purchase of Nama's 'Project Eagle' have been interviewed by the NCA.

Speaking to the Irish News last night, Daithí McKay, the chairman of the finance and personnel committee, said the NCA probe was being cited by potential witnesses as an impediment to providing information to the Stormont inquiry but to date he had seen no evidence that the criminal investigation was underway.

"There needs to be resources put towards this investigation as it involves potentially the biggest property and political scandal in living history," he said.

"At this stage, nearly two months into its probe, the NCA has not made any public statement and I believe it is their duty to do so – silence is not an option."

TUV leader Jim Allister said he would like to think the NCA was "in the midst of an intensive evidence gathering phase".

"By now I would have expected them to come looking for the phone call recordings because if Mr Graham's claim is correct they contain information that is very germane to this inquiry," he said.

"This is a test for NCA to show how far they are above any constraints that may arise from the political inconvenience of this whole episode."

The NCA declined to answer questions about how its investigation was progressing.

A spokesman said: "As the NCA has a responsibility to protect the integrity of its investigations we do not routinely discuss operational detail."

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