Northern Ireland

Frank Cushnahan: Court told of police complaint against ex-Nama adviser

Frank Cushnahan
Image caption Frank Cushnahan is a former adviser to the Republic of Ireland's so-called "bad bank" Nama but had previously worked for the Graham bookmaking business in Belfast

Former Nama adviser Frank Cushnahan is being investigated by police following a complaint made by a prominent Belfast businessman, the High Court has heard.

Mr Cushnahan was a Northern Ireland advisory committee member for the Irish National Asset Management Agency (Nama) or "bad bank" from 2010 to 2013.

Details of the police complaint against him emerged during property developer Gareth Graham's ongoing legal battle with US investment fund Cerberus.

The complaint was made last month.

'Deep animosity'

Prior to his Nama appointment, Mr Cushnahan worked for the Graham bookmaking business from 2005 to 2008.

Mr Graham is a director and major shareholder in property firms which own commercial and residential premises in Belfast.

The companies' loans were among those transferred over to Nama.

On Wednesday, the High Court in Belfast was told that Mr Graham has been removed as a director from the management company running one of his apartment complexes in the city.

Last year, Cerberus bought Nama's entire Northern Ireland property loan portfolio in the biggest property deal ever reached in the jurisdiction.

Mr Graham is challenging the validity of the appointment of administrators to his companies.

He insists his businesses were financially strong and never missed a repayment. His legal team are instead set to claim an improper motive was involved.

'Fixers'

A two-week trial is due to get underway at the High Court in Belfast in January.

At an earlier hearing, the judge was told the Northern Ireland loan book deal would be rendered illegal if any third party "fixers" were wrongly involved.

At that stage counsel for Mr Graham referred to Mr Cushnahan, who during had an office at the Graham bookmaking business during the period he worked for the firm.

Recorded telephone calls allegedly revealed a "deep animosity between Mr Cushnahan and the Graham connection", the court heard.

In September, Mr Graham told a Stormont inquiry that Mr Cushnahan had a conflict of interest in his advisory role because he retained shareholdings in some Graham property companies that were taken over by Nama.

The court heard no civil action has been taken against Mr Cushnahan at this stage but the judge asked if the former Nama adviser had been reported to police.

Counsel for Mr Graham, replied: "He has, and police indicated, I think it was on October 12, that they are proceeding with the investigation."

Mr Cushnahan is not charged with any wrongdoing and has also rejected the criticisms Mr Graham made about him at the Stormont inquiry, saying he gave up the Graham shareholdings in 2009.

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