Statement by TUV leader, Jim Allister
“In seeking to understand the various twists and turns in the NAMAgate saga and, particularly, in identifying the thread of political machinations, useful insight can be obtained from studying the timeline.
“Since the inception of NAMA there was widespread concern that a fire sale of NI assets would destabilise the local economy. Both the First Minister and the Finance Minister had voiced such concerns. Then, suddenly, in September 2013 Peter Robinson signalled support for a radically different approach, namely, the sale of the entire NAMA debt portfolio to a single buyer.
“It was on 9 September 2013 Mr Robinson made his public call for these assets to be “liberated”. Was it coincidence that in that same month PIMCO made its unsolicited approach to NAMA seeking to make just such a purchase of the debt book? (Frank Cushinan, then still a member of NAMA’s NI Advisory Committee, was to receive a huge fee from PIMCO if such a sale had gone through.)
“In an Assembly answer on 14 May 2013 the then Finance Minister, Sammy Wilson, had said he believed “NAMA is playing a positive role in Northern Ireland”. On 9 September 2013 Mr Robinson, in his comments urging “liberation” of the assets, said NAMA was inhibiting growth in NI. Does this clear difference of approach explain the unexpected removal of Sammy Wilson from office on 29 July 2013?
“The new Finance minister, Simon Hamilton – a faithful Robinson disciple – was active in meeting with the NAMA NI Advisory Committee and with the Finance minister in the Republic, Mr Noonan, on NAMA-related issues. On at least one occasion he was accompanied by Mr Robinson (29/9/13) when, inter alia, Millmount was discussed. (Lagans got finance through NAMA to develop Millmount and Lagans admit they paid Gareth Robinson fees for “planning related consultancy”, even though Millmount had full planning permission and Gareth Robinson does not purport to be a planning consultant.) Mr Peter Robinson and Mr Hamilton together also privately met Cerberus, after the PIMCO deal fell apart and before the Cerberus deal was accepted (25/3/14).
“Of further interest in the attempt by PIMCO to purchase the debt book was the role of Mr Robinson in promoting a Memorandum of Understanding, whereby personal guarantors would be protected. An unanswered question is whether a select group of individuals did in fact obtain protection and, if so, who and how? Indeed, have the major NAMA debtors, numbering about 15, obtained deals allowing them to “exit” Cerberus on terms which protect them personally, whereas the smaller loan book debtors face less preferential treatment?
“Much remains unexplained as to the role in which Mr Robinson was acting. The deputy First Minister seems to deny he was acting as First Minister in many of these encounters. So, in what role and on whose behalf was Mr Robinson acting, and why?
“His proactive involvement in making statements encouraging sale of the debt book, in meeting Cerberus and later Jefferies all displays a keen interest. But was he acting as First Minister? If not, then, in what capacity and why? Mr Robinson has yet many questions to answer.”
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