Northern Ireland

Nama: Frank Cushnahan recorded accepting payment

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Media captionFrank Cushnahan was recorded accepting payment of £40,000

Businessman Frank Cushnahan, who has been at the centre of the £1bn Nama deal controversy, was recorded accepting a £40,000 cash payment from a Nama borrower.

The recording was made in 2012 at a time when Mr Cushnahan was still working as an adviser to Nama.

The payment was made by the County Down property developer John Miskelly during a meeting in a hospital car park.

Mr Miskelly said "payments made by me to any persons have been lawful".

Mr Cushnahan has denied any wrongdoing and told BBC Spotlight NI he would not be providing any further responses because of the ongoing National Crime Agency (NCA) investigation.

The chairman of the Irish Parliament's Finance committee has said an all-island commission of enquiry into Nama may be required.

Fianna Fail's John McGuinness said a "cross-border effort must be made to get to the end of this, to get to the truth".

Image copyright BBC Newsline
Image caption Mr Cushnahan, a former banker, was a Nama adviser from May 2010 to November 2013

The recording was broadcast by the Spotlight programme on Tuesday.

'Truthfully reported'

Nama is the Republic of Ireland's "bad bank" which was established in 2009 in the aftermath of the Irish banking and property crisis.

It took effective control of a huge property loan book in Northern Ireland and formed a committee to advise on that part of its portfolio.

Mr Cushnahan, a former banker, was appointed to that committee by the DUP in May 2010 and served until November 2013.

According to what Mr Cushnahan says on the recording he was going to help Mr Miskelly with a refinancing deal which would get his assets out of Nama.

Mr Cushnahan also claimed he could influence a senior Nama official, Ronnie Hanna.

Image caption Nama is the Republic of Ireland's 'bad bank'

There is no direct evidence of wrongdoing by Mr Hanna and he firmly denies that he had any improper dealings with Mr Cushnahan.

In a later recording of Mr Cushnahan, also broadcast by Spotlight NI, he appears to encourage Mr Miskelly to lie to police if they ask questions about their Nama-related dealings.

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Media captionBusinessman Frank Cushnahan appears to encourage Nama borrower John Miskelly to lie to police if they ask questions about their Nama-related dealings

In a statement, Mr Miskelly said: "Since 2007/8 I have consistently and truthfully reported financial crime and corruption with the relevant authorities…

"My overriding aim has always been to highlight wrongdoing and corruption and have all of these matters fully investigated by the appropriate authorities.

"I have at all time made clear, that payments made by me to any persons have been lawful and legitimate.

"As a witness I am participating in the ongoing investigations by the NCA and authorities in the United States and in the interest of integrity of the judicial process I am unable to make any further comment."

Disclosure of interest

Nama has already reported Mr Cushnahan to Ireland's ethics watchdog over his dealings with an investment fund which was interested in buying the Northern Ireland loan portfolio.

Mr Cushnahan met the Pimco fund in May 2013, then when he resigned as a Nama adviser he worked for the fund.

He was in line to receive a £5m fee if Pimco's bid for the portfolio had been successful, the Irish parliament has been told.

Image caption The NI portfolio was sold to the Cerberus investment fund in 2014 for £1.2bn

That bid collapsed in March 2014 when Nama learned of Mr Cushnahan's role.

Nama has said that Mr Cushnahan never made any disclosure of an interest relating to Pimco or its possible interest in bidding for the portfolio.

The portfolio was sold to the Cerberus investment fund in 2014 for £1.2bn.

A previous Spotlight investigation broadcast a recording of Mr Cushnahan claiming he was also due to be paid a fee in relation to that transaction.

Mr Cushnahan has consistently denied that he was due to receive money.

'Questions to answer'

John McGuinness told BBC Radio Ulster's Evening Extra programme that the finance committee has invited Nama to appear before members and answer questions about the loan sale.

"My strong belief is that until such time as both governments decide on a commission of inquiry, we will not get to the bottom of this," said Mr McGuinness.

"There are two jurisdictions involved, it's very complicated. Clearly Nama have questions to answer."

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said a full investigative process must be put in place by the Irish government "without any further delay".

"Anything short of that amounts to the continual cover-up of the waste on hundreds of millions of taxpayers' money," said Mr Adams.

You can watch BBC Spotlight NI on the BBC iPlayer here.

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