Former Nama advisers plead not guilty to Project Eagle fraud

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Two men facing charges linked to Northern Ireland’s largest property deal will stand trial next year, a court heard on Tuesday.

The charges against both Frank Cushnahan and Ian Coulter followed an investigation into the £1.2 billion (€1.43 billion) sale of the National Asset Management Agency’s Northern Ireland property loanbook, known as Project Eagle.

Nama was established by the Government to deal with toxic loans following the banking crisis in 2008. Former Nama adviser Mr Cushnahan and Mr Coulter, one-time managing partner of the law firm that worked on the deal, Tughans, appeared at Belfast Crown Court where they each denied charges arising from the National Crime Agency Investigation.

Both men, who appeared via videolink, were jointly charged with one count of fraud by false representation made on or around April 3rd, 2014.

’Not guilty’

When the charge was put to both men, they each replied “not guilty”.

Mr Cushnahan (80), from Alexandra Gate in Holywood, was also charged with – and denied – fraud by failing to disclose information between April 1st and November 7th, 2013.

In addition to the fraud charge he faces with Mr Cushnahan, an additional four charges were put to Mr Coulter. The 50 year old, from Templepatrick Road in Ballyclare, pleaded “not guilty” to fraud by false representation on or around September 11th, 2014; to supplying an article for the use of fraud on August 13th, 2014; to removing criminal property from Northern Ireland on September 15th, 2014; and to transferring criminal property between September 15th and December 1st, 2014.

Following the arraignment, it emerged that, due to the significant volume of paperwork and witnesses involved, a trial is not expected to take place until 2023 when it will run for an estimated four weeks.

Mr Justice Huddleston said the case would be reviewed again on May 3rd. – M&M News Services

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