Northern Ireland

Nama NI sale: Report expected to say 'failings cost millions'

Nama office sign
Image caption The National Assets Management Agency (Nama) is the Republic of Ireland's "bad bank" set up to deal with toxic loans after the 2008 banking crash

A report examining the value for money aspects of the controversial Nama Northern Ireland deal has been discussed by the Irish cabinet.

Nama, the Irish state asset agency, sold its entire Northern Ireland portfolio for £1.2bn in 2014.

The Comptroller and Auditor General's (C&AG) report is expected to point to "irregularities" and "shortcomings".

It is expected to say failings may have led to "hundred of millions" of euros not being realised for Irish taxpayers.

The Republic of Ireland's opposition has called for the establishment of a commission of investigation into the €1.6bn (£1.36bn) transaction.

Taoiseach (prime minister) Enda Kenny has pointed to legal issues concerning the ability to compel witnesses and documents as two jurisdictions are involved.

Speaking on Wednesday morning, he said the report must be read and analysed before any decision is taken on how to proceed.

Nama has always insisted the deal was conducted with integrity, and is expected to contest the report's conclusions.

The report will be published on Wednesday or Thursday.

Controversy around the Northern Ireland portfolio sale has centred on the role of the businessman and former Nama advisor Frank Cushnahan.

While working as an advisor to Nama, he began talking to a US investment fund, Pimco, which was interested in buying the portfolio.

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

He then left his Nama role and went on to assist the fund with its bid.

He was due to be paid £5m if the bid succeeded - but it collapsed when Nama learned of Mr Cushnahan's role.

Subsequently, only two other firms made offers to buy the Northern Ireland portfolio.

The highest bid of £1.24bn - a fraction above the minimum reserve price - was made by Cerberus.

The other offer from Fortress was for £1.1bn, which was below the reserve.

Earlier this year, the BBC's Spotlight programme broadcast a covert recording in which Mr Cushnahan claimed he was also due to be paid a fee in relation to the Cerberus deal.

Mr Cushnahan has always denied any wrongdoing in relation to his Nama role.

Cerberus has said that the sales process for the loan portfolio was "conducted with full integrity" on its part.

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