Nama letter exposure `throws a whole new perspective'

 The letter from David Watters 'throws a whole new perspective on what was going on', Martin McGuinness has said

DEPUTY first minister Martin McGuinness has said The Irish News exposure of a letter claiming a controversial £7.5 million payment as part of the Nama northern asset sale "throws a whole new perspective on what was going on".

In the correspondence seen by this newspaper, accountant David Watters claimed he was due the "acquisition fee" paid to law firm Tughans after the £1.3 billion sale to US investment firm Cerberus last year.

He was one of five men - including DUP leader Peter Robinson - alleged by loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson in Stormont as being in line for payments following the deal.

Mr Watters, founding partner of Belfast firm McClure Watters, said it was "completely false" to suggest he "was due to receive a fee from monies paid to an Isle of Man account", insisting: "I have no direct or indirect involvement in the Project Eagle transaction."

However, the letter written by the accountant to the solicitors firm has since emerged in which he said he wishes to "lay claim to the acquisition fee of £7.5m your firm currently holds".

It is understood the professed claim relates to work carried out in the early stages of the sales process.

Tughans declined to comment, but the Irish News understands that the money remains in place in a bank account and the Law Society is also understood to be aware of its "safekeeping".

UUP assembly member Jo-Anne Dobson asked Mr McGuinness for "his assessment of today's latest media reports on the Nama Loan Book Scheme contained in The Irish News".

Mr McGuinness said he doesn't "have any doubt whatsoever that over the course of the investigation new information is going to come to light and everybody associated with that project - and it was principally in the domain of the Irish Republic's finance department and Nama in Dublin - will be held accountable".

"I await with interest further developments in the case," the Mid Ulster assembly member said.

"The exposure of the fact that letter was in existence on the foot last week of someone saying they had no connection throws a whole new perspective on what was going on.

"I'm not casting any reflection on anybody whatsoever within the political arena except to say that I do thing that the investigation that's taking place is very important for the purposes of the allaying of people's concerns that things were happening that clearly should not have been happening."


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