Nama scandal: Foster rejects calls for cross-border inquiry

Arlene Foster said the NCA investigation into Nama should be completed before any other action
Arlene Foster said the NCA investigation into Nama should be completed before any other action

First Minister Arlene Foster has opposed calls for a cross-border inquiry to investigate the Nama scandal.

On Tuesday night, BBC Spotlight revealed taped conversations as Nama board member Frank Cushnahan – appointed to the board at the recommendation of the DUP and a friend of DUP ministers Peter Robinson and Sammy Wilson – received a bag full of £40,000 from a property developer seeking help to get his property empire out of Nama.

Veteran financial journalist Ian Fraser described the transaction as “totally corrupt”.

In conversations secretly recorded by the man handing over the cash – developer John Miskelly – Mr Cushnahan also urged him to lie to detectives if he was asked about whether he had paid him as part of the arrangement.

Mr Cushnahan has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

Many politicians from both sides of the border – including Sinn Fein, the SDLP and the Alliance Party – have called for a cross-border inquiry, given the complex cross-jurisdictional nature of Nama.

But yesterday the DUP leader rejected those calls, saying that such a structure would be “not appropriate”.

She told the BBC that the National Crime Agency (NCA) probe should continue and that once it is complete they could look forward to any other “consequential investigations” which have to take place.

She said: “We have always been very clear that the NCA is the appropriate and professional organisation to deal with any allegations.”

Meanwhile, Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt wrote to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) asking the tax agency whether it will investigate the handing over of large sums of cash to Mr Cushnahan.

In a letter to HMRC Permanent Secretary Edward Troup, Mr Nesbitt asked him to confirm if the body planned to investigate the transactions.