Minister refuses to back public inquiry into sale of Nama's €1.6bn Project Eagle loanbook

Two men were arrested last week in a fraud investigation linked to the sale

A Minister of State says investigations into the sale of Nama's loanbook in Northern Ireland should be conducted by policing authorities.

Two men were arrested last week by the UK's National Crime Agency in a fraud investigation linked to the sale, the biggest property deal ever to take place in Northern Ireland.

Searches were carried out in Co Down in connection with the inquiry into the Project Eagle, the controversial £1.2bn (€1.6bn) sale of assets and property owned by Nama, to US investment firm Cerberus.

The investigation was sparked following the discovery of a £7m offshore transfer to an Isle of Man bank account, which was controlled by a former managing partner of Belfast-based law firm Tughans.

Tughans, which was involved in the NAMA transaction after being subcontracted by Cerberus's US lawyers Brown Rudnick, insisted it was not aware of the money movement.

A parliamentary committee at Stormont is carrying out a separate investigation into the Cerberus deal.

Finian McGrath, Minister for Disabilities at the Department of Health, says any allegations of wrongdoing should be investigated by the Gardaí, rather than the Dáil.

It follows renewed calls for a public inquiry into Project Eagle in the Republic.

"I think there are serious questions to be answered... two people have already been arrested.

"Now, my view on these issues, every time something goes wrong we have a commission of inquiry, it was the National Crime Agency dealt with the particular issue.

"As far as I'm concerned, if there's wrongdoing in the financial sector, it should be a policing issue, it should be a criminal issue, and I think politicians at times should stay out of it."