Firm that bought NAMA loans says it paid for access to Stormont Execuitve

Cerberus acquired Project Eagle in 2014 for just over stg£1.3bn

Firm that bought NAMA loans says it paid for access to Stormont Execuitve

Image: RollingNews.ie

A senior figure from the company which bought NAMA's Northern Ireland loans says it paid local lawyers to get access to senior politicians in Northern Ireland.

Cerberus acquired Project Eagle in 2014 in a matter of weeks after being contacted to put in a bid.

They were also contacted by leading international law firm Brown Rudnick, who offered them help with the bid process.

Cerberus admits it paid fees to lawyers for services - including access to the Northern Ireland Executive and "people in the Republic".

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is continuing to examine the sale.

It comes after Comptroller & Auditor General report found tax payers may have lost out on around €200m 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.

Chief operating officer of Cerberus, Mark Neporent, told Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald at the Public Accounts Committee the stg£15m fee included access to the Stormont Executive.

"What we paying for was work that they had done over the course of at least a year - so it's not just for two weeks' work, certainly not the way we looked at it.

"We were also paying for their access - or what they told us they could get us access - to other stakeholders through their local affiliations."

Ms McDonald then interrupted: And who were they? Who were these other stakeholders?".

To which Mr Neporent replied: "The Northern Irish Executive, poeople in the Republic".

Yesterday, the PAC heard from Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.