Footage appears to show ex-NAMA adviser accepting £40,000 cash payment in car park

BBC investigation claims Frank Cushnahan took money from a NAMA borrower

Footage appears to show ex-NAMA adviser accepting £40,000 cash payment in car park

Screenshot: BBC

Businessman Frank Cushnahan has been secretly recorded taking a £40,000 cash payment from a NAMA borrower, according to a BBC investigation.

The audio was allegedly taped in a hospital car park in 2012, when Mr Cushnahan was still a member of NAMA’s Northern Ireland advisory committee.

A BBC Spotlight programme broadcast last night claimed that the money was given to him by Northern Irish property developer John Miskelly.

Mr Miskelly can be heard in the recording saying: "There’s forty thousand in that, and it’s in bundles of two, Frank."

The audio suggests that Mr Cushnahan was prepared to help Mr Miskelly with a refinancing deal that would allow him to take his assets out of NAMA.

The former NAMA adviser also claimed he could influence a senior NAMA official, Ronnie Hanna, according to Spotlight.

No evidence of misconduct by Mr Hanna was found, and he denied any improper dealings with Mr Cushnahan.

Mr Miskelly said "payments made by me to any persons have been lawful".

Mr Cushnahan, who also denied any wrongdoing, told the BBC he would not be commenting due to on an ongoing investigation by the UK’s National Crime Agency.

Project Eagle

The former banker is already at the centre of a controversy around the €1.6 billion sale of Project Eagle, the agency’s largest ever property deal.

It emerged last year that he met with US investment firm Pimco, an unsuccessful bidder for the portfolio, months before resigning from the committee in October 2013.

The agency said it later discovered that Pimco had agreed to pay Mr Cushnahan £5 million if its bid was accepted.

The portfolio was eventually sold to the US-based Cerberus fund in 2014.

In a recording aired during an earlier Spotlight programme, Mr Cushnahan claimed he was due to receive money for that deal.

He has always denied that was set to receive payment.

Investigation

NAMA reported Mr Cushnahan to the state’s ethics watchdog in March over concerns that he failed to make required disclosures during his time as an adviser.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams today called for an investigation into the issues raised by last night's Spotlight programme. 

"To date, the Fine Gael-led government and Fianna Fáil have opposed the establishment of a Commission of Investigation into NAMA," he said. 

"The Minister for Finance is still sitting on a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General into the disposal of the NAMA loan book in the North.

"These parties are lurching from one financial scandal to the next and their consistent response is to stall and avoid any investigation. 

"The government must publish the NAMA review and establish a Commission of Investigation into the selling of the NAMA loan book without any further delay.

"Anything short of that amounts to the continual cover-up of the waste on hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ money."

A spokesperson for NAMA told Newstalk.com that it will not be making any comment.