Wallace urged to talk to PAC over Project Eagle claims
INDEPENDENT TD Mick Wallace has been told he should agree to appear before an Oireachtas committee to discuss his allegations regarding the £1.3 billion sale of Nama’s Project Eagle portfolio.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny yesterday made the call after the Wexford politician accused the Fine Gael leader of being involved in a "cover-up" by failing to launch a commission of inquiry into the sale of Nama’s Northern Ireland loan book.
Speaking in the Dáil during Leaders’ Questions, Mr Wallace claimed there was "a strong belief that [US purchaser] Cerberus was earmarked to get this project hail, rain or snow; that the whole thing was fixed up in order that it would get it. NAMA is involved in that and the agency cannot distance itself."
Mr Wallace, who has refused to appear before the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the Assembly Finance Committee, has claimed that £45 million was paid in "fixer fees" during negotiations, while £7 million was deposited in an offshore account to be paid to a “Northern Ireland politician or political party”.
He questioned yesterday how Nama could "tolerate the idea" of selling its largest Project Arrow portfolio to Cerberus when the finance firm was the subject of US and UK criminal investigations.
The taoiseach responded by urging Mr Wallace to cooperate with PAC, through which Nama is answerable to the Oireachtas, adding: "The deputy might well serve the national interest in a major way because whoever is giving him his piece of information, he should then test them as to whether they stand up."
Nama later published a letter it sent to Mr Wallace from Martin Whelan, its Head of Relationship Management.
"This is the latest in a long series of unsubstantiated allegations made by you relating to NAMA," he wrote.
"At no stage have you brought any of these allegations to the attention of NAMA or given the Agency any opportunity to respond to them. As a matter of fact, I can assure you that the assets purchased by Cerberus from NAMA were sold after an open market sales process. Furthermore I would point out that no one individual had authority to approve any sale and that only the Board had such authority.
And he added: "Your most recent allegation against NAMA, like those before, has been made under Dáil privilege and, as of yet, without you producing a shred of supporting evidence ... If for some reason you are unable to engage with NAMA, I would ask you to refer your allegations, and any proof you may have, to the Gardaí so that they can be properly assessed by a competent authority. Otherwise, I can only assume that your only objective is to damage NAMA as opposed to establishing the truth of what may or may not have happened at the periphery of the Project Eagle transaction in Northern Ireland. "