Prosecution decisions issue in respect of National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) property deal

06 August 2020

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) has taken a decision to prosecute two individuals in respect of the National Crime Agency (NCA) investigation into the sale of NAMA’s Northern Ireland property loan book.

After consideration of a complex and substantial file submitted by NCA investigators, it has been decided that there is sufficient evidence to prosecute two suspects in connection with alleged activity around the property deal known as Project Eagle.

A 78-year-old man is to be charged with one count of the offence of fraud, contrary to Section 1 of the Fraud Act 2006 involving a failure to disclose information between 1st April 2013 and 7th November 2013.

The 78-year-old and a 49-year-old man are also to be jointly charged with one count of fraud, contrary to Section 1 of the Fraud Act 2006 involving a false representation made on or around the 3rd April 2014.

The 49-year-old man is to be further charged with:

  • One count of fraud, contrary to Section 1 of Fraud Act 2006 involving a false representation made on or around 11th September 2014;
  • One count of fraud, contrary to Section 7 of the Fraud Act 2006 involving making an article in connection with a fraud on or about 13th August 2014;
  • Two counts of the offence of concealing criminal property, contrary to Section 327 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 involving concealing, disguising or transferring criminal property between the 15th September 2014 and 1st December 2014.

A total of nine individuals have been considered by the PPS in respect of the NCA investigation into Project Eagle. The investigation examined, amongst other matters, the circumstances around the sale and attempted sale of NAMA’s Northern Ireland property loan book to two US investment firms in 2014.

Further decisions have been taken today not to prosecute six other individuals reported in connection with Project Eagle after it was concluded that there was insufficient evidence available to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction. A decision was previously taken not to prosecute one suspect in November 2018 arising out of the Project Eagle investigation.

All decisions by the PPS are taken strictly in accordance with the Test for Prosecution, which involves two stages. The Test for Prosecution is met if, in relation to an identifiable suspect, the available evidence is sufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of a conviction (the Evidential Test) and if prosecution is in the public interest (the Public Interest Test).

PPS Assistant Director Ciaran McQuillan said: “We have been working in close partnership with the National Crime Agency in respect of its wide-ranging investigation into the sale of Nama’s property loan book in Northern Ireland. We would like to take this opportunity to recognise the diligence of the NCA in this investigation and the comprehensive nature of their enquiries.

“A considerable volume of evidence submitted to the PPS has been painstakingly examined by a team of experienced and senior prosecutors, with the benefit of advice from two Senior Counsel.  As a result, it has been concluded that there is sufficient evidence for two of those reported to be prosecuted for a number of serious charges.

“Whilst the Test for Prosecution was met in respect of two suspects, it was considered not met on evidential grounds in respect of seven further individuals with regard to the Project Eagle investigation. All decisions were taken in full accordance with the PPS Code for Prosecutors and only after a thorough consideration of all issues.

 “As criminal proceedings will commence in due course and each defendant has the right to a fair trial, it is extremely important to protect the integrity of any future trial that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice those proceedings.”

Today’s decisions relate only to allegations investigated around Project Eagle. An NCA investigation into a number of additional matters, not connected to Project Eagle, remains on-going and may result in further prosecutorial decisions being made at a later time.

NCA Deputy Director of Investigations Craig Naylor said: “This operation has been and remains an incredibly complex investigation, which is of enormous importance to the public in Northern Ireland and beyond. Today’s announcement is therefore a significant milestone.

“I’m grateful to officers here in the NCA and colleagues in the PPS for their professionalism and commitment throughout, which has been instrumental in getting us to where we are.

“The investigation is not over yet. We have further lines of inquiry to follow up and we will continue to liaise as appropriate with PPS colleagues.”

ENDS

FOR GUIDANCE:

  • The Public Prosecution Service has received two files in relation to the National Crime Agency investigation into allegations around the sale of NAMA’s Northern Ireland property loan book.
  • The first file was received in March 2018 and contained two suspects.
  • A decision was taken not to prosecute one of those two suspects in November 2018 after it was concluded that the evidence examined was not sufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of obtaining a conviction for any offence.
  • The second person reported on this March 2018 file was subsequently transferred into the second file which was received in January 2019 and contained a total of eight suspects. Therefore, for clarification, the total number of suspects considered in connection with this investigation was nine.
  • As a prosecution will be commenced, the PPS does not wish to say anything that might prejudice those proceedings and will not be making any further comment on this case. The PPS would ask that there is no reporting, commentary or sharing of information on-line from other parties which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.
  • Please note that the PPS cannot comment on NCA investigations.
  • This matter is being dealt with by way of summons. The PPS therefore has to prepare a substantial volume of court papers before a summons can issue to either defendant outlining the date and venue of their first appearance in court.
  • The PPS takes all decisions in accordance with the Code for Prosecutors, which can be found here.
  • For media queries, please contact the PPS Communications Unit by emailing ppspressoffice@ppsni.gov.uk inside office hours. The out of hours press officer can be contacted on 07920 271 804.