Northern Ireland news

PPS still considering whether to bring Nama charges against eight suspects

A PSNI officer watches Jamie Bryson giving evidence to Stormont finance committee. Picture by Mal McCann

THE Public Prosecution Service (PPS) is still considering whether to bring charges against eight people investigated over the sale of Nama's Northern Ireland portfolio.

A probe by the National Crime Agency (NCA) was launched in July 2015 in the wake of allegations of corruption by independent TD Mick Wallace.

The claims related to the sale of Nama's Project Eagle northern loan portfolio to US investment fund Cerberus in 2014.

Mr Wallace told the Dáil that £7 million had been moved to an Isle of Man bank by a former partner of Belfast based legal firm Tughan's.

Loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson made allegations online about the scandal and even published a hastily produced book about it.

When subsequently called to give evidence to Stormont's finance committee, he claimed Tughan's senior partner Ian Coulter was among five men set to share in a "success fee" linked to the £1.1 billion sale.

The other four were said to be the then First Minister Peter Robinson, accountant David Watters, developer Andrew Creighton and ex-Nama adviser Frank Cushnahan.

All five men have denied the claims.

In September 2016, BBC Spotlight broadcast a secret recording in which Mr Cushnahan was heard to accept a £40,000 cash payment from Co Down developer and Nama borrower John Miskelly.

The recording was made in 2012 at a time when Mr Cushnahan was still working as an adviser to Nama.

The NCA first sent a file to the PPS in March 2018, which contained allegations against two suspects. Eight months later, a decision was taken to not prosecute one of the two on the basis of insufficient evidence examined.

The remaining suspect was among eight individuals named in a second file sent to the PPS in January last year, which continues to be under consideration.

In a statement to The Irish News, prosecutors said they were still examining the files.

"A file received by the PPS from the National Crime Agency regarding complex fraud allegations against eight suspects remains under active consideration," the statement said.

"A team of expert senior prosecutors has made significant progress on considering the substantial material contained in this file. Decisions will issue in due course after a thorough consideration of all evidence."

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