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Frank Cushnahan's reps apologise over Nama firm shares

Belfast businessman Frank Cushnahan
Brendan Hughes

BUSINESSMAN Frank Cushnahan's representatives have apologised for a "clear error" in claims that he had 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 taking up a Nama advisory role.

Mr Cushnahan has rejected the claims, insisting he gave up the interests beforehand and that any shareholder listing is an "administrative error".

The dispute relates to shares in property companies owned by Belfast businessman Gareth Graham, a member of the Sean Graham bookmaker family.

In July accountancy firm McClure Watters wrote to Mr Graham's representatives on behalf of Mr Cushnahan.

It requested that Mr Cushnahan is removed as a shareholder, claiming he is "incorrectly recorded" and had previously signed documents to transfer the shares.

However, in a further letter sent last month McClure Watters accepted that Mr Cushnahan remains listed as a shareholder in several of the firms.

It said Mr Cushnahan believed that when he signed share transfer forms in relation to the bookmaker business he was relinquishing all his interests in Graham companies.

The firm said issues including not receiving any correspondence for the companies "contributed to Mr Cushnahan's ongoing belief (albeit incorrect) that he was no longer a shareholder".

"We apologise for our misunderstanding of the facts and trust that you will acknowledge how this arose and that this was a clear error on our part," it said.

Loans held by Mr Graham's property companies were within the Nama portfolio purchased last year by US investment fund Cerberus.

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

During Stormont's Nama inquiry Mr Graham alleged his firms were wrongly taken into the Republic's 'bad bank' following his former colleague Mr Cushnahan's "malevolent" influence.

The finance committee also heard claims that Mr Cushnahan was set to receive a "success fee" linked to the Cerberus deal.

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

Nama has also said it was unaware of a meeting Mr Cushnahan had with a potential buyer of its northern portfolio while still an NIAC member.

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

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