There have been cross-border calls for an investigation after Independent TD Mick Wallace claimed in the Dáil that £7 million “earmarked for a Northern Ireland politician” was placed in an Isle of Man bank account in the wake of the sale of the Dublin Government’s National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) Northern Ireland portfolio to the New York private investment firm Cerberus Capital Management last year.
Several Londonderry assets were acquired by Cerberus last spring in what’s been described as the largest property deal in Irish history.
Using parliamentary privilege in Dublin on Thursday, July 2, Deputy Wallace, a property developer whose own assets were also placed in NAMA stated: “Does the Tánaiste [Joan Burton] have any concerns that a routine audit of a solicitor’s firm that looked after the deal where 4.5 billion euros of assets were sold for 1.5 billion, euros with a massive loss for the Irish taxpayer? The routine audit showed that £7 million sterling ended up in an Isle of Man bank account...it was reportedly earmarked for a Northern Ireland politician or...”
Deputy Wallace went on to call for an independent inquiry into the huge land and loans deal.
In response to the allegation TUV MLA Jim Allister said: “Following [the] disturbing allegations made in the Dáil concerning Cerberus, and in particular the suggestion of a corrupt link to a Northern Ireland politician, it is imperative that this matter is thoroughly investigated by all relevant authorities, including the PSNI. The PSNI needs to make its intentions clear.”
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said: “This is a very serious statement by Mick Wallace, it needs to be very thoroughly investigated.”
The law firm Tughans, named by Deputy Wallace in the Irish parliament, denied the allegations and issued the following statement: “We can confirm that a former partner diverted to an account, of which he was the sole beneficiary, professional fees due to the firm, without the knowledge of the partners.
“We have since retrieved the money and he has left the practice.
“Tughans reported the circumstances of the departure of the former partner to the Law Society.”
Meanwhile, Cerberus said: “We are deeply troubled by Mick Wallace’s allegations and we want to make it clear that no improper or illegal fees were paid by us or on our behalf and we take any allegations to the contrary extremely seriously.”