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Banker in Belfast 'may have spotted Nama payment'

Gary McDonald Business Editor

A JUNIOR manager at Danske Bank in Belfast may have set in motion the sequence of events which has ultimately led to police and parliamentary investigations into the sale of Nama's northern property portfolio.

The Irish News understands that a member of staff may have spotted what was deemed an "irregular transaction" after a large sum of money was paid into a dormant bank account.

As per bank protocol, that staff member then alerted Danske's anti-money-laundering unit, which in turn took its investigation to the next level.

In his evidence to the Stormont finance committee on Wednesday, loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson claimed that a "success fee" from the £1.3bn sale of Nama's northern loans portfolio to Cerberus was paid into a dormant Tughans Danske Bank account in its Donegall Square West branch in central Belfast, and from there money was transferred to an off-shore account in the Isle of Man.

When the anomaly was spotted, and because the account was assigned to a firm of solicitors, the bank would have been obliged to alert the Law Society, which the Irish News understands Danske did.

Danske Bank refused to comment in detail yesterday.

But a spokesman told the Irish News: "In general terms, like all other banks, we have a legal duty of confidentiality to our customers and therefore we are unable to comment on the specifics of any customer relationships that we hold.

"In addition, it is a matter of public record that this issue is the subject of a live investigation being undertaken by the National Crime Agency and it would therefore be inappropriate for us to comment on it in any way."

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