TD claims further revelations to come on NI Nama sale

Independent TD Mick Wallace in the Dáil on Thursday when he made the explosive allegations
Brendan Hughes

THE maverick politician whose sensational corruption claims sent shockwaves through Stormont plans to make further explosive allegations in the Dáil.

Speaking for the first time since his shock claims last week, independent TD Mick Wallace told The Irish News: "I have more to say about Northern Ireland."

He added: "There are some powerful people and they have some serious questions to answer – and they are not feeling comfortable."

Mr Wallace rocked Stormont last Thursday when he used Dáil privilege to allege a £7m offshore fund had been earmarked for a Northern Ireland politician.

He claimed the payoff was linked to the sale of Northern Ireland property loans held by the National Asset Management Agency (Nama).

The 850-property portfolio was purchased in April last year by New York firm Cerberus Capital Management for £1.3bn – the biggest ever property deal in Northern Ireland's history.

Mr Wallace named Belfast law firm Tughans as having acted for Cerberus and said "a routine audit showed that £7m ended up in an Isle of Man bank account".

He added that "it was reportedly earmarked for a Northern Ireland politician".

It has since been suggested that at least £6m in the Isle of Man account was intended to facilitate payments to non-lawyers or 'fixers' involved in the Nama sale.

Following the Dáil claims, Tughans said professional fees due to the firm were diverted to an account without its knowledge by former managing partner Ian Coulter.

It said the money was retrieved and Mr Coulter has since left the practice.

The Law Society has repeatedly refused to comment, but Tughans confirmed the society is conducting an investigation into the matter.

The matter was not reported to the PSNI. A spokesman said that as nothing had been reported "as such there is no investigation".

Mr Wallace yesterday confirmed to The Irish News that he intended to make further claims in the Dáil about the controversy.

"That's my plan. I don't have to say much straight away because there are different bits coming out the whole time," he said.

"In fairness to the media in the north they have turned the heat up on the issue – people are panicking a bit."

Mr Wallace said he would be submitting further questions on the matter tomorrow but will not receive speaking time for them.

However, he suggested an opportunity to speak would arise on Wednesday week at Leaders' Questions just ahead of the Dáil summer recess.

"They will go to great lengths to prevent me from speaking in the Dáil," he said.

Mr Wallace said he does intend to go to the gardaí or PSNI over his claims, instead calling for a "proper independent investigation".

"My argument is that keeping Nama accountable is a task well beyond the control of the auditor general and it is about time the Irish government accepted it," he said.

The Wexford TD said he has more information but has to be careful how to use it.

"The whole thing stinks to high heaven, but this isn't going to go away," he said.

On Saturday The Irish News revealed the existence of hours of secret, taped recordings that could expose how the alleged £7m pay-off fund was set up.

Some 30 hours of conversations between some of the key players implicated in the scandal are currently held by a legal firm in Belfast.

A raft of senior politicians have called for an investigation into the claims aired in the Dáil.

Stormont finance committee chair, Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay, hopes to convene an emergency sitting by Wednesday at the latest to examine the allegations.

The Republic's minister for public expenditure and reform Brendan Howlin yesterday said the claims made by Mr Wallace are worthy of investigation.

Mr Howlin said he hoped Mr Wallace would give the full facts to gardaí and said the independent TD may also have to speak to the PSNI.

The call came as Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams also urged the Republic's finance minister Michael Noonan to make a full Statement on the sale of Nama's northern loan book.

The Louth TD highlighted how the north's loan book with a par value of £4.5bn was sold at a "huge discount" for £1.3bn.

"I have now written to the minister requesting that he seeks the permission of Ceann Comhairle to make a full statement on this sale," he said.

"It is not good enough that the government remains silent on this issue which has handed on a massive loss to citizens."


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