NTMA on defensive over access to Drumm documents
Agency claims agreement will allow confidentiality challenge
Published 20/01/2011 | 05:00
THE National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) has defended its decision to sign off on an agreement that will prevent the gardai from having access to key files in ex-Anglo chief David Drumm's bankruptcy case.
Sources close to proceedings also said that the agreement had been "widely misinterpreted" and would actually allow Anglo to contest the confidentiality of certain documents.
The comments follow revelations last week that Mr Drumm and his one-time employer Anglo Irish Bank had asked US courts for a 'protective order' that would make documents in the bankruptcy case "confidential".
The order will mean that the gardai and the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, who are pursuing a number of investigations relating to Mr Drumm's time at Anglo, will not have access to all the files turned up by Anglo's trawl of Mr Drumm's affairs.
The Irish Independent has learnt that Anglo consulted the NTMA, which oversees the State's banking assets, before acceding to Mr Drumm's request to keep the documents out of the public record.
In a statement released to this newspaper last night, the NTMA said it understood the "protective order" agreed by Mr Drumm and Anglo was "standard practice" in the US courts.
It also stressed that the protection offered by the order was "comparable to obligations under Irish law regarding the use of information discovered as part of an Irish court process" and that it "would not prevent the subsequent prosecution of any other issue which Anglo may wish to consider".
"On that basis and in order to expedite this matter, the NTMA acceded to the Anglo proposal not to oppose the order," the statement added.
A US bankruptcy lawyer said that while 'protective orders' weren't typically applied for in personal bankruptcy cases, the kind of confidentiality being sought by Mr Drumm is typically imposed.
"What he's asking for is that some documents that come up in the course of discovery won't be put on the public record, that wouldn't usually be done anyway," the lawyer told the Irish Independent.
Sources close to the proceedings said that the protection order could actually help Anglo because it laid down "clear terms" under which documents can be deemed confidential.
This will "prevent a blanket claim of confidentiality in respect of all documentation produced", a source added.
Documents filed with the US courts and seen by the Irish Independent stress that the 'confidential' privilege cannot be extended to any documents obtained by Anglo "on a non-confidential basis" and cannot be used for "materials that have been previously provided by another person".