Dáil committee to quiz Nama management over latest Project Eagle revelations

Businessman Frank Cushnahan was recorded accepting £40,000 cash from a developer

Management at Nama are expected to be grilled on the latest revelations surrounding the Project Eagle sale when they appear before the Dáil's public spending watchdog later this month.

Nama chairman Frank Daly will be joined by other executives on September 29 to answer questions at the public accounts committee about the £1.24bn sale of its Northern Ireland loans portfolio.

The appearance is expected to follow the publication of a report by the Republic's Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) into the controversial deal.

The report's primary remit is to assess whether southern taxpayers got value for money from Nama's sale of its northern assets.

The Project Eagle deal has been mired in controversy since last summer when independent TD Mick Wallace alleged that £7m of fixers' fees had been sent to an offshore bank account and were destined for a northern politician.

On Tuesday night, BBC's Spotlight programme broadcast secret recordings which showed businessman Frank Cushnahan accepting £40,000 in cash from Co Down property developer John Miskelly, a Nama borrower.

Mr Cushnahan, who has denied wrongdoing, was a member of Nama's Northern Ireland advisory committee.

The revelations have prompted calls for a cross-border inquiry into the deal.

Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said a probe involving the administrations in the north and south should begin when the National Crime Agency and authorities in the US have concluded their investigations.

"What we need is, obviously, the police investigations – whether it be the American ones or on this side of the water – expedited as quickly as possible so we can have full information about what was actually going on," he told the BBC.

"And then I think we need an all-Ireland investigation with the administrations north and south co-operating to, as best they can, get to the bottom of what was happening."

First Minister Arlene Foster said a cross-border Nama inquiry was "not appropriate", though she said there could be other "consequential investigations" once the NCA had completed its work.

"We have always been very clear that the NCA is the appropriate and professional organisation to deal with any allegations," she said.

The NCA arrested and later released Mr Cushnahan and Nama executive Ronnie Hanna in May.

The pair have been released from police bail to enable further enquiries to continue, the NCA said.

Meanwhile, Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt has written to HM Revenue and Customs asking whether it will investigate the Spotlight allegations.

"Given how serious the allegations made during the programme were, they must receive full and robust investigations," Mr Nesbitt said.

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