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Nama: Ronnie Hanna and Gareth Robinson called to Stormont probe

Gareth Robinson has not responded to requests for a comment
Brendan Hughes

THE son of former first minister Peter Robinson and a former Nama official are to be called before a Stormont inquiry over suggestions they helped prevent the agency from moving against certain debtors.

PR man Gareth Robinson and Ronnie Hanna have been sent letters inviting them to attend the finance committee probe into Nama's £1bn northern portfolio deal.

Accountant David Gray, a partner in Belfast firm McClure Watters, has also been asked to appear before the inquiry.

It comes after a BBC Spotlight programme revealed covert footage that suggested Mr Hanna "prevented people's lights going out".

The comment was made by former Nama adviser Frank Cushnahan, who was also filmed saying he was due a secret 'fixer's fee' from the Project Eagle sale.

The Belfast businessman was recorded during a meeting with Mr Gray and developer John Miskelly, whose loans were in Nama.

Speaking about "Ronnie", Mr Cushnahan said: "People's lights would have gone out except for him. I mean that sincerely."

Mr Miskelly said: "You remember when Gareth Robinson phoned me that morning and told me to go to your office and you phoned Ronnie. I know mine would have been out – and I'm not the only one."

Mr Miskelly later told the BBC the recording was accurate, including his belief that Mr Robinson, Mr Cushnahan and Mr Hanna helped protect him from having his "lights put out" by Nama.

The Co Down developer has also been asked to give evidence to the inquiry.

Mr Hanna, who left Nama in late 2014 and now runs a consultancy business in the north, has yet to address questions about the footage.

Gareth Robinson, Mr Gray and Mr Cushnahan have also not responded to requests for a comment.

Nama said it was not possible for any one official to decide whether or not to drop enforcement proceedings against a debtor.

"A suggestion to the contrary highlights either a misunderstanding or a deliberate misrepresentation of Nama's decision-making processes," a spokesman said.

Nama (National Asset Management Agency) is the Republic's 'bad bank', set up during the financial crash to take at-risk loans off the books of bailed out lenders.

A criminal probe by the British National Crime Agency over the northern loan book sale is already ongoing since July last year.

It was launched following claims in the Dáil that around £7m linked to the deal had been earmarked for a Northern Ireland politician or party.

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