Thursday 27 November 2014

Nama shooting the messenger says PAC chief

Questioning ex-official's credibility 'not good enough'

Ronald Quinlan, Special Correspondent

Published 09/02/2014 | 02:30

John McGuinness. Photo: Collins
John McGuinness. Photo: Collins

THE Chairman of the Dail's Public Accounts Committee (PAC), John McGuinness, has likened efforts by Nama chiefs to question the credibility of allegations of misconduct made against it by former official Enda Farrell as an attempt to "shoot the messenger".

"It mirrors the attitude that the State has about whistleblowers and it mirrors the attitude that those who deliver a message that isn't of mainstream origin should be disregarded and therefore 'shoot the messenger'. It's not good enough," Deputy McGuinness told the Sunday Independent.

Mr McGuinness was responding to comments made about Mr Farrell by Nama's chairman Frank Daly and its CEO Brendan McDonagh at their most recent appearance before the PAC.

Defending Nama against Mr Farrell's claims that the confidential financial information of property tycoon Paddy McKillen and a number of other property developers had been leaked by individuals employed by the agency, Mr Daly questioned Mr Farrell's credibility, pointing to the fact that the former portfolio manager was "currently under garda investigation as a consequence of a formal complaint about him made by Nama".

Nama chief executive Brendan McDonagh also sought to dismiss Mr Farrell's claims, suggesting that at least some of them seemed to "revolve around" his "personal grievances" or "personal views".

However, Mr McGuinness insists he won't be dismissing Mr Farrell's claims without investigating them fully.

"In every story, there can be a degree of truth and in some stories all of it can be truth. That's what the PAC does. It teases out the issues that arise in public or that we are informed about anonymously," he said.

Commenting on the fact that there were currently three investigations into alleged misconduct at Nama being conducted by the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation, Mr McGuinness said: "It is serious. That they [gardai] have three separate investigations ongoing and have a liaison officer working with Nama is extraordinary in itself.

"When we questioned Nama about that at the PAC last December, there was no great detail given. That's not good enough. That has to stop.

"They are open when they come before us and Frank Daly is a polished performer but they need to be far more open and the use of the commercial sensitivity argument or the excuse that the Gardai are investigating certain matters is not sufficient. These questions that are being asked must be answered so publicly that it restores the public's confidence in Nama," he added.

With the PAC likely, according to Mr McGuinness, to call Nama chiefs in for a further round of questioning "before the end of this month or in early March at the latest", the matter of those garda investigations will invariably feature on the agenda.

Quite apart from the cases of Enda Farrell and another former Nama employee referred to them by Nama, the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation are also actively investigating two related complaints made by Mr McKillen against Nama over the alleged leaking of his confidential financial information.

Irish Independent

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