Nama property deal: Two suspects may be charged

By Vincent Kearney
BBC News NI Home Affairs Correspondent

image captionNama, the Irish state asset agency, sold its property loan portfolio to a US investment fund in 2014

Prosecutors are being asked to decide whether to charge two suspects questioned over an investigation into Northern Ireland's biggest ever property deal.

Nine people are under investigation over the £1.2bn property sale.

Nama, the Irish state asset agency, sold the loan portfolio to a US investment fund in 2014.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) says it has sent files to the Public Prosecution Service.

It says a "more substantial file" will be submitted in due course.

In September, the NCA confirmed that eight people were under criminal investigation, but has since changed this to nine.

The agency took over the investigation into fraud, bribery and corruption allegations from the Police Service of Northern Ireland in July 2015.

'Complex investigation'

It is understood the files were sent to the prosecution service last month and are under "active consideration".

Prosecutors will decide whether there is sufficient evidence to put the suspects on trial.

"As you would expect for an ongoing complex investigation, we are regularly liaising with the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) Northern Ireland," the NCA said in a statement to BBC News NI.

"A file relating to some of the matters under investigation has recently been submitted to the PPS.

"A large number of documents have been received and continue to be reviewed. We will take the time necessary to investigate properly and comprehensively a further, more substantial file that will be submitted to the PPS in due course."

image copyrightRTÉ
image captionNama, which was established in 2009, is based in the Irish Treasury Building in Dublin

The statement said 66 witnesses from a number of countries have been interviewed as part of the investigation.

Nine suspects have been identified, with eight of them questioned by the inquiry team.

Three of those questioned were arrested and have since been released from police bail pending further enquiries.

Background to the deal

The £1.2bn sale, called Project Eagle, first became embroiled in controversy in July 2015, when allegations of political interference were made in the Dáil (Irish Parliament).

Mick Wallace, an Irish independent politician, first made the claim that a Belfast law firm had £7m in a bank account "reportedly earmarked" for a Northern Irish politician after the Northern Ireland property deal.

media captionNama: Frank Cushnahan recorded accepting payment

In 2016, A BBC Spotlight NI investigation revealed a recording of Frank Cushnahan, a Nama Northern Ireland adviser, accepting a £40,000 cash payment from a Nama borrower.

The recording was made in 2012 at a time when Mr Cushnahan was still working as an adviser to Nama.

The payment was made by the County Down property developer John Miskelly during a meeting in a hospital car park. Mr Miskelly said "payments made by me to any persons have been lawful".

Mr Cushnahan has denied any wrongdoing.

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