Nama

Watters and Creighton respond to £7.5m claims

Susan Thompson
24 September, 2015 20:54

THE Belfast accountant named yesterday by loyalist flag protester Jamie Bryson as one of five men due to receive a share of a success fee linked to the sale of Nama's northern property loans portfolio to US investment firm Cerberus has denied that he was in line for a payment from the £7.5 million .

A statement from David Watters, managing partner of accounting and advisory firm McClure Watters, said:

"Unsupported testimony provided yesterday at Stormont claimed I was due to receive a fee from monies paid to an Isle of Man account," he said. " That is completely false. I had no role in, and was in no way party to, the issuance of this fee. Additionally, and for the avoidance of any doubt, I had no direct or indirect involvement in the Project Eagle transaction.

A statement from property developer Andrew Creighton, who is represented by the same Belfast public relations firm, said that he does not expect any payment in relation to Project Eagle, sold for a knockdown £1.3 billion to Cerberus in April last year. 

"Following allegations made yesterday at Stormont, I can categorically state that I have made no claim for a fee, I have not received any payment nor do I expect to receive any payment in relation to Project Eagle. 
I will not be making any further comment on this matter."

On Wednesday Bryson told a Stormont committee investigating the Nama sale of northern assets that the fee was to be paid into an off-shore account controlled by Ian Coulter, a former managing partner of Belfast-based law firm Tughans.

"This was a success fee that was to be paid in to a dormant Danske Bank account in the Donegall Square West branch (in Belfast) and from there it was transferred to an off-shore account," Bryson said.

"There were to be a number of beneficiaries to this fee and I will refer to them simply as person A, person B, person C, person D and person E.

"I can now tell this committee without fear of contradiction that person A is Mr Peter Robinson MLA, person B is (developer) Mr Andrew Creighton, person C is (accountant) Mr David Watters, person D is (ex Nama adviser) Mr Frank Cushnahan and person E is (solicitor) Ian Coulter."

Mr Robinson also strongly rejected Mr Bryson's allegations on Wednesday, describing them as "scurrilous and unfounded".

  • Who are they? 

ANDREW CREIGHTON (54) is one of the north's best-known property magnates.

But although he's been associated with many high-profile developments in Ireland and Britain over the last 20 years, his own personal profile has been low key.

He shot to prominence at the turn of the millennium when, with business partner Frank Boyd, their William Ewart Properties business bought Dunloe Ewart plc’s Northern Ireland and UK assets for £100m.

Later they were behind plans for the £500m Royal Exchange regeneration project in Belfast city centre which had aimed to provide retail, office, hotel and residential developments. It never happened.

He was hit hard by the property slump, and over a five-year period the value of his holdings diminished by more than £100m and many of his businesses were wound up.

Mr Creighton is currently secretary and director of Brunswick (No.1), one of the largest property companies registered and trading from Northern Ireland and whose many subsidiary companies still include Ewart and Royal Exchange.

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DAVID WATTERS is managing partner of Belfast-based accounting and advisory firm McClure Watters, which he helped found in 1989 and is part of the global network of RSM with more than 37,500 people in 112 countries.

Under his leadership, the firm has grown into the seventh-largest accountancy firm in Northern Ireland with a raft of public and private sector clients.

Mr Watters is currently leading the firm’s activities in the property advisory and reconstruction division, and has advised clients on dealings with alternative sources of finance, lending institutions - and Nama.

He is currently also a non-executive director of construction giant John Graham Holdings Limited, which has turnover in excess of £300m and operating activities throughout the UK and Ireland.

Mr Watters, a Queen's University economics graduate, has sat on the boards of many companies and charities over nearly 30 years and chaired the Belfast Charitable Society, which was formed in 1752. He was recently appointed as a non executive director of the Northern Ireland Guardian Ad Litem Agency.

24 September, 2015 20:54 Nama

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