independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

New NAMA revelations from US courts

Three businessmen challenge agency in fresh leak claims

National Asset Management Agency chairman Frank Daly (left) and chief executive Brendan McDonagh as they arrived at Leinster House before they appeared before the Public Accounts Committee yesterday.
Picture: Frank McGrath
National Asset Management Agency chairman Frank Daly (left) and chief executive Brendan McDonagh as they arrived at Leinster House before they appeared before the Public Accounts Committee yesterday. Picture: Frank McGrath

THREE more businessmen have come forward with serious allegations about the leaking of information at NAMA, as controversy surrounding the bad bank deepens.

Two major developers allege that a NAMA executive disclosed details to third parties acting for potential purchasers of their loans.

John Flynn, a prolific boom-era developer, and Joseph Sheehan, the brother of Blackrock Clinic owner Jimmy Sheehan, make the explosive claims in documents lodged to a US court yesterday.

And separately, another businessman has written to the Garda Commissioner claiming that a NAMA official passed on sensitive information about his financial affairs to a third party.

The fresh revelations are sure to put further pressure on the agency, which is already facing questions over its dealings with a number of businessmen.

NAMA chief executive Brendan McDonagh yesterday tried to dampen down the growing controversy. He claimed the agency was the victim of "a carefully orchestrated operation targeted at a small number of media outlets and Oireachtas members".

"Its intended purpose is clear -- to damage NAMA and thereby undermine the financial institutions of the State," he said.

BENEFIT

However, in US court filings, Mr Flynn and Mr Sheehan claim confidential information was disclosed "for the purpose of defrauding the plaintiffs, to the benefit of Nama, its employees and executives".

The complaint filed to the Southern District Court of New York also claims that: "Nama and its employees have conspired with buyers of Nama loans so as to further defraud borrowers, including plaintiffs."

The main substance of the court filing relates to serious allegations of interest rate overcharging on loans.

Meanwhile, the Irish Independent has also learned that another businessman has complained directly to gardai that leaks from NAMA have damaged his business.

The businessman claims to have uncovered evidence of wrongdoing in an email sent by an individual in NAMA to a representative of a major company whose loans had been taken over by the assets agency.

He alleges that the company to whom the email was sent owed him €4m -- but the NAMA official requested that the debt be paid instead directly to NAMA.

In his letter to the Garda Commissioner, the businessman claims that the passing of the information "seriously jeopardised my business interests and has caused both my family and I mental and physical harm and a huge financial loss in the region of €8m".

The businessman claims that when he received the email through the Data Protection Commissioners, he made complaints to NAMA and the former Anglo Irish Bank before its liquidation.

He claims that the two bodies blamed each other for the alleged leak and no further action was taken.

In the letter sent to Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan on Thursday, he asked that the gardai launch a criminal investigation into NAMA and the IBRC.

This businessman claims that the email showed breaches of the Criminal Justice (Act 2001, as well as statutory duty and client confidentiality.

The alleged offence occurred on December 7, 2010 when the NAMA official sent the email, following on from a phone call, to the NAMA debtor. In the email, which was seen by this newspaper, the official tips off a director of the debtor company that the businessman is planning to sue them over the €4m debt.

He then reveals that the businessman's financial "facilities are under water".

It reads: "As discussed over the phone (the businessman) who is one of the borrowers on our books advised that he initiated legal proceedings against (the debtor company) for non-payment of €4m arising from the sale of his 50pc shareholding in (a company owned by the debtor company). (His) facilities are under water."

The email continues: "We would obviously like to capture any of the payments due to (the businessman) from (debtor company). Therefore, I would appreciate if you could advise if you are aware of the proceedings and any payments due to (businessman)."

In his letter to the commissioner, the man says that he went to five law firms in Dublin -- none of which could represent him either through a conflict of interest or the fact that their loans were also in NAMA.

A further complaint was made to the Financial Ombudsman, who said there was no case to answer.

The businessman adds: "I also met with many official in both organisations, who confirmed to us that the call and the email was made and sent by a NAMA official."

INEXPLICABLE

This is the second letter of complaint to be sent directly to Mr Callinan in the past two weeks.

Earlier this week, the Irish Independent revealed that lawyers acting on behalf of property developer Paddy McKillen wrote to the garda chief claiming that "inexplicable behaviour" by a NAMA official has "seriously jeopardised" his business interests.

Mr McKillen asked the commissioner to start a criminal investigation and revealed he was keen to meet with detectives.

On Tuesday, this newspaper revealed how former NAMA official Enda Farrell had given gardai statements admitting he passed on confidential and sensitive information while working in the assets agency.

Mr McKillen's letter to the commissioner was prompted by admissions by Mr Farrell that he had also handed over highly sensitive material relating to McKillen's private and business affairs.

Irish Independent

Also in this Section

Classifieds

CarsIreland

Independent Shopping.ie

Meet, chat and connect with
singles in your area

Independent Shopping.ie

Meet Singles Now

Findajob

Apps

Now available on

Independent.ie on Twitter

More

Most Read

Daily Deals

Independent Gallery

Your photos

Send us your weather photos promo

Celebrity News