Nama: Frank Cushnahan represented by David Watters' firm

Businessman and former Nama adviser Frank Cushnahan
Brendan Hughes

A NEW link has emerged between two men alleged alongside First Minister Peter Robinson to be in line for a "success fee" linked to the northern Nama deal.

Former Nama adviser and businessman Frank Cushnahan is being represented by a firm run by accountant David Watters.

Both were among five people accused of being set to share in a £7.5m payment linked to the sale of Nama's Northern Ireland property portfolio.

Loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson named the pair last month at an inquiry being held by Stormont's finance committee to examine the £1bn loan book purchase.

He also accused three others – DUP leader Peter Robinson, developer Andrew Creighton and solicitor Ian Coulter.

All five have dismissed the claims and strongly denied any wrongdoing.

David Watters is managing partner of Belfast-based accounting and advisory firm McClure Watters.

In a letter seen by The Irish News, the accountancy firm wrote to representatives of Belfast businessman Gareth Graham, saying it is acting on behalf of Mr Cushnahan.

The firm requested that Mr Cushnahan is removed as a shareholder for one of Mr Graham's companies, claiming he is "incorrectly recorded" and had previously relinquished the shares.

The letter was sent on July 17 this year – two weeks after the northern Nama controversy erupted following allegations made by independent TD Mick Wallace.

He claimed under privilege in the Dáil that £7.5m linked to the purchase was reportedly earmarked for a Northern Ireland politician or party.

Political watchdogs on both sides of the border are examining the Nama sale while a criminal investigation has also been launched.

Loans held by Gareth Graham's property companies were within the Nama portfolio purchased last year by US investment fund Cerberus.

Last month Mr Graham alleged his firms were wrongly taken into the Republic's 'bad bank' following his former colleague Mr Cushnahan's "malevolent" influence.

Mr Graham, a member of the Sean Graham bookmaker family, also told the finance committee that Mr Cushnahan had retained a five per cent stake in his property businesses.

He said that should have led to a declaration of interest when he became a member of the Nama Northern Ireland Advisory Committee (NIAC) in 2010.

Mr Cushnahan has previously denied any wrongdoing. He also insisted he gave up the property firm interests and that it was due to an "administrative error" that he was still listed as a shareholder.

The Irish News last week revealed a draft letter by David Watters in which he "laid claim" to the entire £7.5m payment made to Belfast law firm Tughans as part of the loan book deal.

On Tuesday Nama also said it was unaware of a meeting Mr Cushnahan had with a potential buyer of the northern portfolio in 2013 while still a member of the NIAC.


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