Northern Ireland

Nama deal: Frank Cushnahan profile

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

One of the key figures in the controversy over the sale of Nama's Northern Ireland property portfolio is Belfast businessman Frank Cushnahan.

The National Assets Management Agency - the Republic of Ireland's 'bad bank' - took effective control of a property loan portfolio in Northern Ireland worth more than £1bn after the financial crisis.

It set up a committee to advise it on Northern Ireland issues and Mr Cushnahan was recommended for appointment by the Democratic Unionist Party.

He served on the committee from 2010 to 2013.

A former banker who became a corporate fixer, unknown to Nama, Mr Cushnahan had been talking to US investment firm Pimco who were interested in buying its Northern Ireland portfolio.

Before he left his Nama post, Mr Cushnahan attended meetings with Pimco as it prepared to mount a bid. He was due to be paid £5m if the bid succeeded.

However, the deal collapsed when Nama learned of his role.

Another company called Cerberus then bought the portfolio for £1.2bn.

Mr Cushnahan has consistently denied any wrongdoing, and that he was due to receive money in relation to that deal.

Image caption Spotlight broadcast a covert recording of Mr Cushnahan in February

However, in February BBC NI's Spotlight programme broadcast a covert recording in which Mr Cushnahan claimed that he was due to be paid a fixer fee over the deal.

Mr Cushnahan was defended by former first minister Peter Robinson who, in October 2015, was appearing before a committee examining the sale of Nama's NI portfolio to Cerberus.

The first minister told the Stormont committee that he had been friendly with Mr Cushnahan for years and found him to be "motivated by the best interests of Northern Ireland".

He added that Mr Cushnahan could be described as a "pillar of the establishment".

He said that he or his special advisor had regular contact with Mr Cushnahan in the period leading up to the Nama deal.

The purpose of this was to get the "best possible assurance as to how any purchaser would operate" in Northern Ireland.

In June, the Irish parliament was told that Mr Cushnahan was one of two men arrested by the National Crime Agency as part of a fraud investigation. It was told the other was a former senior Nama executive.

Image caption Former First Minister Peter Robinson said in 2015 he had been friendly with Mr Cushnahan for years and found him to be 'motivated by the best interests of Northern Ireland'

Nama has launched two complaints about Mr Cushnahan to the Republic's Standards in Public Office Commission. It also reported him to police in the Republic of Ireland as well as the UK National Crime Agency.

Meanwhile, in September Spotlight broadcast another recording of Mr Cushnahan accepting a £40,000 cash payment from a Nama borrower. The man who made the payment, County Down property developer John Miskelly, said "payments made by me to any persons have been lawful".

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

A former pupil of St Malachy's Grammar School in north Belfast, Mr Cushnahan held a number of senior positions in the banking world.

In the late 1990s, he established his own consultancy, advising companies on corporate finance issues and management buy-outs and acquisitions.

Mr Cushnahan has held dozens of corporate appointments and public sector positions during his career.

Image caption Nama has lodged a number of complaints against Mr Cushnahan

He was a corporate financier at the Northern Ireland Science Park for a three-year period and worked with the University of Ulster Foundation in Coleraine from 2009 to 2013.

He also had a long spell with Delta Print and Packing, off-licence group Wineflair and the the Red Sky construction group.

Mr Cushnahan also previously served as chairman of the Belfast Harbour Commissioners.

Within Stormont, he was for a time director of the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister as well chairing other internal panels.

Mr Cushnahan was also an advisor to the general board panel established by the Presbyterian Church to consider issues arising from the financial crisis related to the Presbyterian Mutual Society (PMS).

He was awarded a CBE for services to the Northern Ireland's economy in 2001

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

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