Businessman Frank Cushnahan arrested by NCA in Nama probe

Frank Cushnahan was one of two men arrested 
Connla Young

FORMER Nama adviser Frank Cushnahan was arrested by fraud squad chiefs on Tuesday in connection with a record £1.2 billion property deal.

The high-profile businessman was one of two men detained by the National Crime Agency (NCA) as part of major investigation into the sale of assets and property owned by the National Assets Management Agency (Nama) to US firm Cerberus.

The investigation by the NCA, the UK's lead policing body, was sparked by the discovery of a £7 million offshore transfer to an Isle of Man bank.

An NCA spokesman said two arrests had been made “in connection with a fraud investigation”.

“The operation is being assisted by the PSNI. As the investigation is continuing we are unable to comment further,” he said.

Nama acted as the Republic’s ‘bad bank’ which was set up at the height of the financial crisis in 2009 to take property linked loans off the books of bailed-out banks.

The sale of its assets and property to the Cerberus - dubbed Project Eagle - has been dogged by controversy amid claims that an individual who helped set the deal up were paid a ‘fixers fee’.

The controversy first emerged last year after claims were made in the Dail by independent TD Mick Wallace that £7million had been moved to an Isle of Man bank by a former partner of Belfast based legal firm Tughan’s.

The cash was also alleged to have been earmarked for a leading local politician.

In the wake of the controversy parliamentary inquiries have been conducted in Stormont and Dublin amid a raft of allegations about fixer fees behind the deal.

Other investigations are ongoing including by the US Department of Justice's Securities and Exchange Commission.

All parties involved in the huge £1.2 billion transaction in 2014 have denied wrongdoing.

Speaking in the Dáil on Tuesday, taoiseach Enda Kenny again rejected calls for a state inquiry, insisting that no allegations of wrongdoing had been made against Nama.

Responding to the arrests north of the border, he said: "If they have been arrested, I assume they have been arrested for good reason in respect of activities that would be outside the law. I trust that will see itself through that process and be judged before the courts."

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams however said it was a "matter of public interest" that a state inquiry took place.

"The sale of Nama's Northern loan book has been subject of serious allegations of a cosy cartel, of insider trading, payments to the golden circle and payment of illegal fixer fees," he said.

"This is a public interest matter. It must be fully investigated to get to the bottom of any allegations of wrongdoing."

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