Today it can be exclusively revealed that the National Crime Agency (NCA) attended Tughans solicitors- by mutual agreement- last weekend (September 5/6) and siezed files and documents.
It is understood that the agency were there to retrieve all documents related to correspondence between Tughans and Pimco and the later files and information related to Cerberus.
Some of the information seized includes emails between Ian Coulter and two individuals who were to benefit from a slice of the £7.5 million transferred into an off-shore account.
For the first time these individuals can be named as property developer Andrew Creigton and Chartered accountant David Watters. Both of these individuals were set to receive a substantial kick-back from the off-shore account. As has previously been revealed Frank Cushnahan, Peter Robinson and Ian Coulter were also to benefit. It is understood Peter Robinson has a number of off-shore accounts which he uses for his own personal property and financial deals.
This was a complex part of the investigation and a number of discussions had taken place between Tughans and the NCA in relation to which files could be opened up. Due to client privilege, Tughans had to take advice from the Law Society and a number of QC’s in regards to what information they turned over to the NCA. It is understood that a number of Tughans clients are concerned about this development, as private and confidential documents could be vulnerable.
This latest development within the criminal investigation comes as the United States Department of Justice issued a subpoena to Cerberus, requesting the hand-over of all documents relating to the purchase of the Northern Ireland Nama portfolio. The move by the Department of Justice adds a transatlantic dimension to the investigations.
There is every possibility that the US DOJ could request the extradition of those involved with this deal. In 2006 three British Businessmen were extradited to America and sent to prison for conspiring with former Enron staff to defraud Natwest bank. The extraditions were carried out under UK extradition laws which had been introduced by the Labour Government. Counsel acting for the businessmen, Alun Jones QC said that his clients had all contacted the UK Authorities and there was no charges being brought within the United Kingdom. Outside the court during a hearing in Bow Street Magistrates Court, London, one of the defendents- David Bermingham said “one phone call to the UK is all that was needed” for the case to be taken up by the British authorities and tried within the UK rather than in America. All three businessmen were jailed in the United States.
In February 2012 a retired British businessman, Christopher Tappin, was extradited from the UK to face trial in the US for selling batteries for Iranian surface-to-air missiles. He pleaded guilty in November 2012 and was sentenced in January 2013. The British citizen was sentenced to 33 months imprisonment.
The above cases show that the US Department of Justice have the power and indeed the will to extradite British citizens to the US to face criminal charges. If it is found that the Cerberus purchase of the Northern Ireland Nama loan portfolio was unlawful under US law then all those involved face the very real possibility of extradition to the United States to face trial.
It can also be revealed that one of those at the centre of the scandal, Ian Coulter, has now been made a director in Lagan’s. Coulter is on the premises on a regular basis and it is thought this surprising elevation to a company director was a “thank you” to Coulter for his part in the Cerberus deal which has saw Lagan’s benefit from sweetheart refinancing deals. In similar fashion, Maple ten developer Paddy Kearney expressed his thanks to “fixer” Alan Mains by purchasing an £80,000 Mercedes for him.
In this remarkable story, described in the Irish News last week as “the biggest political and financial scandal in living history” more unravels by the day. There is such a gravity and volume of information that many of the smoking guns have been buried, inadvertently, under a tide of corruption.