Nama has told MLAs that it is not obliged to be held accountable anywhere except in the Republic of Ireland, after a Stormont committee published a report which criticised the agency.
Nama (the National Assets Management Agency) said the MLAs’ suggestion that it had been unhelpful in declining to send representatives to Belfast to be questioned as part of an official probe was “unsubstantiated and unfounded”.
The agency has been at the centre of an investigation by Stormont’s finance committee since last July, sparked by allegations that a roughly £7m fee – linked to the sale of its enormous Northern Irish book of property loans – was earmarked for an unnamed politician in the Province.
On Thursday, the committee issued a progress report which listed 18 key witnesses whom MLAs still want to quiz in person, including representatives of Nama itself, whose refusal to attend was “particularly unhelpful”.
Nama responded by saying that it had provided 350 pages of documents, and answered 105 questions.
A letter from Nama chairman Frank Daly to the committee yesterday claimed the agency was “surprised” at the description, adding that “no allegations of wrongdoing have been substantiated” against it – and that Nama has “no obligation to account for our actions in any jurisdiction other than the Republic”.
In addition Allan Ewart – ex-special advisor in Stormont’s Finance Department – responded to an assertion in the report that he had declined to attend, saying he was “never formally invited to attend the finance committee”.
In a statement this week, businessman Gareth Graham – who had previously claimed that the company which bought Nama’s loan package, Cerberus, was “ruthless, unjust and unreasonable” – said legal action between him and the firm had been settled and that he regretted any “inadvertent harm” which he may have brought to “the Cerberus brand”.