N. Ireland Politics

Irish government says Martin McGuinness was present at Nama conference call

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Media captionMartin McGuinness mentioned the Nama conference call during a Stormont hearing on 23 September.

The Irish government has released details of a conference call about the NI Nama loan sale at which Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness was present.

The conference call was between Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan, First Minister Peter Robinson and Mr McGuinness on 14 January last year.

In a statement, Sinn Féin said the conference call was a matter of public record which Mr McGuinness highlighted in his evidence last week to Stormont's Finance Committee.

Mr McGuinness said last week that it was "absolutely misleading" for the DUP to suggest he was fully informed and engaged with a bid from one prospective US buyer, Pimco.

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During the 2014 call, Mr Noonan, Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness discussed Nama's decision to dispose of the 850-property loan book by auction, as opposed to accepting an unsolicited offer from Pimco.

Mr Robinson is quoted as saying "they did not align themselves with any particular buyer".

The minutes note: "However, he reiterated the comfort provided by the commitments Pimco had made to the executive through a letter of intent regarding their management of assets if they were the successful acquirer."

It goes on to state Mr Robinson agreed to provide this letter of intent to Nama "for informational purposes".

No contribution is recorded from Mr McGuinness in the note of the call.

'In the dark'

In its statement, Sinn Féin stated: "Martin McGuinness was not involved in the drafting, nor did he consent to, the correspondence referred to in the call with Mr Noonan.

"He was kept in the dark of the nature and extent of meetings and correspondence on this matter."

The National Asset Management Agency (Nama) sold its NI loan book to a US investment fund.

A Stormont inquiry began after it was claimed a Northern Ireland politician was to get a payment as a result of the sale.

Mick Wallace, an independent politician in the Republic of Ireland, made the claim about a Northern Irish politician in the Irish parliament.

Cerberus, which bought the loans from Nama, has denied that any improper or illegal payments were made on its behalf.

Nama says the sales process was "robust, competitive and secured the best outcome for the Irish taxpayer".

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