Allegations that Northern Ireland’s first minister was to benefit from a massive property deal have been made to a Stormont inquiry.
Jamie Bryson, a high profile loyalist blogger and flag protester, said Peter Robinson was among five people to receive a share of a “success fee” linked to the £1.2 billion sale of assets owned by Nama (National Asset Management Agency) - the Republic’s so-called bad bank.
Mr Robinson, who has always vehemently denied wrongdoing in relation to the Nama deal, has temporarily stood aside as first minister to facilitate talks to resolve a political crisis at the devolved Assembly.
In evidence given to the finance committee at Parliament Buildings in Belfast, Mr Bryson made a series of explosive allegations and said his sources included “whistleblowers”.
The fee was to be paid in to an off-shore account controlled by Ian Coulter, a former managing partner of Belfast solicitors’ firm Tughans, Mr Bryson said.
He said: “This was a success fee that was to be paid in to a dormant Danske Bank account in the Donegal Square West branch (in Belfast) and from there it was transferred to an off-shore account.
“There were to be a number of beneficiaries to this fee and I will refer to them simply as person A, person B, person C, person D and person E.
“I can now tell this committee without fear of contradiction that person A is Mr Peter Robinson MLA, person B is (developer) Mr Andrew Creighton, person C is (accountant) Mr David Watters, person D is (ex Nama adviser) Mr Frank Cushnahan and person E is (solicitor) Ian Coulter.”
Earlier the committee voted on whether Mr Bryson’s evidence should be heard in public.
Members of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) opposed holding an open session.
Political watchdogs either side of the Irish border are examining the sale of the huge Northern Ireland property portfolio of Nama which was set up by the Irish government to deal with at-risk loans.
All parties involved in the transaction have vehemently denied acting unlawfully.
Mr Robinson has consistently denied that he, his party or anyone in his family was to benefit.
Throughout the hearing, DUP MLAs challenged the validity of Mr Bryson’s evidence.
Protesting that it should have been heard behind closed doors and a transcript published at a later date, South Down MLA Jim Wells said: “Here we have no direct evidence from Mr Bryson.
“He has now moved on to make extremely serious allegations and all he has is hearsay and his opinion.”
Mr Bryson hit back saying he stood over his allegations “110%”.
“I believe I have demonstrated a clear web of individuals, including politicians, who have contrived and conspired together to get things done and increase their own bank balances by a nod and a wink schemes,” he said.
The loyalist added he would rather go to jail than reveal his sources.
He said: “I am giving relevant information to this committee which sources, extremely close and involved in this nefarious deal, have provided to me as whistleblowers.
“I am not in a position to breach somebody’s confidence before this committee.”