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Wednesday 1 October 2014

Minister says gardai probing 16 complaints against NAMA

Gordon Deegan and Paul Williams

Published 30/05/2014 | 02:30

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Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has confirmed that a senior officer from the fraud squad has been appointed to look at all the issues.  Picture: Caroline Quinn
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has confirmed that a senior officer from the fraud squad has been appointed to look at all the issues. Picture: Caroline Quinn
How the 'Irish Independent' revealed on Monday that 26 NAMA-linked properties had been sold without any evidence of open marketing

GARDAI are investigating 16 complaints relating to activities at NAMA.

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Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has confirmed that a senior officer from the fraud squad has been appointed to look at all the issues.

Although the minister did not describe the nature of the complaints, the Irish Independent understands that several relate to allegations of personal information being leaked.

NAMA, which has generated €18.6bn in cash since its formation in 2009, said that it was aware of investigations into two ex-employees. A spokesperson noted that it "referred" the two former workers to the authorities in September 2012 and February 2013.

Former NAMA official Enda Farrell has already been questioned on a number of occasions by detectives who have sent a file to the DPP.

He has admitted to buying a five bedroom property that was on NAMA's books without disclosing the transaction to his employers. He later sold the house, in Lucan, Co Dublin, for a 16pc profit.

A second former employee was reported to gardai for allegedly sharing information unlawfully.

NAMA said that another investigation it had asked gardai to launch into two debtors "is progressing". However, the spokesperson said it was not aware of the 12 other probes.

"NAMA is not aware of the nature or number of any other complaints referred to. Any such complaints are a matter for the gardai to pursue," the spokesperson said. "NAMA has stated that it will fully co-operate with the gardai if they require any assistance."

In a written Dail response to Stephen Donnelly TD, Ms Fitzgerald said: "I am informed by the garda authorities that there are currently investigations relating to 16 complaints in total involving NAMA.

"I am further informed that a detective inspector from the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation (GBFI) has been designated as senior investigation officer in relation to all complaints made by, and against, NAMA."

Sources told the Irish Independent that allegations being investigated by GBFI include complaints made by a number of prominent businessmen whose loans have been taken over by NAMA.

The claims include allegations that a number of NAMA officials leaked sensitive financial information and confidential business plans that the developers had submitted to the agency.

Deputy Donnelly asked if the Justice Department had been asked to provide additional resources to gardai to assist with complaints involving NAMA but the minister said: "I have not received a request for additional resources in the context of these particular investigations."

Developers

Last December the Irish Independent revealed that Enda Farrell had admitted passing confidential information to third parties while in NAMA.

He has also claimed that he was "encouraged" to deliberately undervalue property loans and that he was just one of a number of people to hand confidential information to outside companies.

Mr Farrell said he handed a dossier to gardai containing emails and other correspondence which he claimed was proof that leaking was rife within the secretive agency.

One of his admissions relates to the leaking of sensitive information relating to businessman Paddy McKillen's private and business affairs.

Among Enda Farrell's other claims were that he witnessed officials "bragging" about "how brilliantly" €8m of developer debt had been dealt with.

He also claimed that he had evidence of a official with the agency being wined and dined in London's exclusive Groucho Club in a meeting that raised concerns of a conflict of interest.

Mr Farrell has said that he was under "overwhelming pressure" in a job that he wasn't qualified to do.

However, at a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee in light of the revelations, NAMA chief executive Brendan McDonagh denied sensitive information relating to Mr McKillen had been leaked to third parties.

Irish Independent

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