Funds reportedly held in the Isle of Man are at the centre of allegations of serious political corruption in Northern Ireland.
Around £7 million was said to be held by an NI law firm ‘reportedly earmarked for a politician’ following a major property deal.
The allegations were made in the Irish parliament yesterday (Thursday) by independent member Mick Wallace against Belfast law firm Tughans.
The case has sent shockwaves through Northern Irish politics with Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt stating that, if the allegations were proven to be true, they represented corruption ‘on a previously unimaginable scale’.
According to a story on the front page of today’s Belfast Telegraph, Mr Wallace had voiced concerns over the sale of the Northern Ireland property portfolio of the National Assets Management Agency (Nama) in April 2014.
And yesterday, Mr Wallace raised allegations around payments in the Dail, the Irish parliament.
He named Tughans as having acted for Cerberus, which bought the Nama portfolio in Northern Ireland, and that ‘a routine audit showed that £7m ended up in an Isle of Man bank account’.
He added: ‘It was reportedly earmarked for a Northern Ireland politician.’
Tughans denied Mr Wallace’s allegations, but revealed in a statement yesterday evening that a former partner did divert money into a bank account, and that the partner had since left the firm.
The statement said: ‘In response to the comments made today in the Dail we can confirm that a former partner diverted to an account of which he was the sole beneficiary, professional fees due to the firm without the knowledge of the partners.
‘We have since retrieved the money and he has left the practice.’
Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister later said: ‘Tughans confirmation of the mysterious diversion of funds to a separate account, apparently in the Isle of Man, lends credence to at least that part of the Dail allegation, accentuating the need for the entirety of the allegations to be properly and independently investigated.’