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Nama: Cushnahan urged to clarify when he gave up shares

Frank Cushnahan said any shareholder listing was an "administrative error"
Brendan Hughes

BUSINESSMAN Frank Cushnahan has been urged to clarify when he relinquished shares in firms moved into Nama.

Concerns of a conflict of interest were raised after Mr Cushnahan was accused of retaining the shareholdings despite becoming an adviser to the Republic's 'bad bank'.

Mr Cushnahan has rejected the claims, insisting he gave up the interests ahead of his advisory role and that any shareholder listing was an "administrative error".

But some statements issued on the Belfast businessman's behalf appear to differ on when Mr Cushnahan relinquished the shares.

A statement issued to the media in July this year said he relinquished all equity interests "approximately seven years ago".

Correspondence on his behalf also says he completed documentation transferring interests for one of the firms in "early 2010".

And a solicitor's letter sent to Stormont's finance committee last month refers to "in 2009" relinquishing any shareholding.

Mr Cushnahan was appointed to Nama's Northern Ireland Advisory Committee (NIAC) in May 2010, and left the role in November 2013.

Last month Belfast businessman Gareth Graham told the committee that Mr Cushnahan was conflicted in his NIAC role because he retained shareholdings in some Graham property companies that were moved into Nama.

Mr Cushnahan insisted he gave up the shareholdings before the NIAC appointment, and if he remains on the share register it is only because the firms have not provided the necessary updates.

Sinn Féin's Daithí McKay, chair of the finance committee, said there was an "inconsistency" over when the shareholding was relinquished.

"There is an onus on Mr Cushnahan to come forward and clarify once and for all to the committee and to the inquiry the issues that are still unclear about his shareholding," he said.

Earlier this month Nama said it was unaware of a meeting Mr Cushnahan had with a potential buyer of its Northern Ireland property loans portfolio while still an NIAC member.

The loan book was eventually sold to another US firm, Cerberus, last year for more than £1bn.

Last month a finance committee inquiry over the Nama deal heard that Mr Cushnahan was set to receive a "success fee" linked to the purchase.

In July Nama's Frank Daly also told TDs that Mr Cushnahan was set to receive £5m if an earlier bid went ahead.

Mr Cushnahan and all parties involved in the Nama deal have denied any wrongdoing.

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