Martin McGuinness says he never suspected any wrongdoing in sale of Project Eagle

The North's Deputy First Minister told the PAC he did think there were a series of irregularities

Martin McGuinness says he never suspected any wrongdoing in sale of Project Eagle

Martin McGuinness. Image: RollingNews.ie

The North's Deputy First Minister says he never suspected any wrongdoing in the sale of Project Eagle - but he did think there were a series of irregularities.

Martin McGuinness - who is appearing before the Public Accounts Committee - says the only involvement he had was a conference call in January 2014 when Michael Noonan informed him and Peter Robinson that the sale of NAMA's northern loan book was to happen.

He has told the committee that he learned through the media of a number of other meetings in 2013 and 2014 involving the former first minister, DUP ministers and others.

Mr McGuinness says throughout the process he never suspected any wrongdoing.

"There was absolutely nothing on my mind apart from the irregularity of how this was being handled," he said.

The PAC is examining the sale of NAMA's northern loan book - known as 'Project Eagle' - following a critical report by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

The report found tax payers may have lost out on around €200 million by NAMA selling the loans too cheaply.

When the loans were sold two years ago, they raised just over stg£1.3bn - but the C&AG suggested they could have been worth nearly stg£1.5bn if they were not sold so suddenly.

Speaking ahead of this afternoon's hearings, PAC Chairman Seán Fleming said: “We will resume our examination of the report on Project Eagle tomorrow when we will meet with Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

"We will be interested in discussing the Deputy First Minister’s communications in relation to the background and context to the sale of NAMA’s Northern Ireland Loan Portfolio.”

The PAC has already heard from a number of NAMA officials, the Comptroller & Auditor General Seamus McCarthy, and Finance Minister Michael Noonan.

Meanwhile, a fresh invitation from the PAC to appear before it has been sent to Peter Robinson.

It comes after the former first minister said he never received an invite sent last month.

Seán Fleming says the original invite was sent to DUP offices for onward transmission but a new invite has now been sent to his home address by courier.