Nama

NCA urged to provide update on Nama probe

NCA director general Lynne Owens spoke to the Policing Board in October

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THE National Crime Agency (NCA) has been urged to provide an update on its probe into Nama's sale of the Project Eagle loan portfolio.

SDLP finance spokeswoman Claire Hanna claimed the investigation, which began in July 2015, was moving at a "funereal pace".

The NCA last gave an update on its inquiry in October last year.

Its director general Lynne Owens told the Policing Board then that six people were under criminal investigation in relation to the controversial £1.24bn deal.

She said more than 40 witnesses had been interviewed by the agency, which was probing potential bribery, corruption and fraud.

Ms Owens confirmed that two people had been arrested in May and interviewed under caution.

The Irish News understands they were former Nama adviser Frank Cushnahan and Ronnie Hanna, a one-time senior executive at Ulster Bank and head of asset recovery at the so-called bad bank. Both were later released from police bail.

All parties connected to the property deal deny any wrongdoing.

The NCA chief said the investigation was "one of our highest priority operations in our serious and organised crime grid".

However, Ms Hanna said the NCA should be providing further updates.

"The criminal investigations in particular seem to be proceeding at a funereal pace and I encourage the UK National Crime Agency to make clear the current state of their investigations," the South Belfast MLA said.

"They have had ample time to make progress and it is time they treated the public with respect."

When contacted by The Irish News, an NCA spokesman said its most recent update was in October last year, shortly after Ms Owens had spoken to the Policing Board.

On that occasion, the NCA confirmed that it had met Nama officials in Dublin.

"Any further updates will be issued in due course," the spokesman said.

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