A long-running investigation into alleged fraud in Northern Ireland has resulted in two senior figures facing fraud charges relating to a £1.2 billion property deal in 2014.
The deal was Northern Ireland’s most valuable ever real estate transaction and involved the sale of property loans by the Republic of Ireland’s National Asset Management Agency (Nama) to US investment firms.
Nama was set up by the then Irish government to deal with toxic loans after Ireland’s banking crisis in 2008.
The UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) placed nine people under investigation in 2017 on suspicion of fraud, bribery and corruption but said this week that it would not prosecute six of them, while the decision not to press ahead with prosecution for one individual was taken in 2018.
However, two men, Frank Cushnahan and Ian Coulter, are being jointly charged with fraud.
Prosecutors allege that Mr Cushnahan failed to disclose information. Meanwhile, it is alleged that Mr Coulter made a false representation, made an article in connection with a fraud and concealed, disguised or transferred criminal property.
The men’s solicitors said their clients maintain their innocence and will be pleading not guilty to the charges at any forthcoming criminal trial.
A spokesman for the NCA described the prosecutions as a “significant milestone”, saying that the operation “has been and remains an incredibly complex investigation”. He added that it is not over yet though and said that the Agency has further lines of inquiry to follow up.
Roger Isaacs, Forensic Partner at Milsted Langdon, said: “In complex investigations such as this, it is likely that forensic accountants will have been involved from the outset in tracing the movement of funds.
“With a trial on the horizon, we can expect that the prosecution and defence teams will be relying heavily on insights from forensic accountants, who may be able to add weight to the case or uncover evidence casting doubt on the prosecution.”