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Sunday 21 September 2014

Third ex-Nama official admits to removing papers

Anonymous source did it at request of colleague

RONALD QUINLAN Special Correspondent

Published 02/02/2014 | 02:30

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NAMA Chairman Frank Daly at Treasury Buildings last thursday.
Photo: Tony Gavin 26/7/2012
NAMA Chairman Frank Daly

A THIRD former Nama official has confirmed to the Sunday Independent that he engaged in the unauthorised removal of an official document from Nama HQ at the request of another ex-Nama colleague.

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The individual – who cannot be named for legal reasons – claimed, however, that the document he removed was not commercially sensitive as the majority of its content had been "blanked out" before he took it from the building.

Asked what Nama's position was in relation to the former Nama official's admitted conduct, a spokesman for Nama said: "We can't respond to these kind of anonymous/ hypothetical claims."

The former Nama official, meanwhile, sought to downplay the seriousness of his action, describing it as "irrelevant". His admission will, however, invariably fuel the growing controversy surrounding claims already being made by two other former Nama officials that a number of individuals employed by the agency had engaged in the leaking of confidential financial information of property tycoon Paddy McKillen and of other developers whose assets and loans are with Nama.

Appearing before the Public Accounts Committee on December 20 last, Nama chairman Frank Daly expressed his surprise that "such unquestioning credibility" had been given to the claims of Nama leaks being made by one of those former officials, Enda Farrell. Defending Nama, Mr Daly reminded politicians that Mr Farrell himself was "currently under garda investigation as a consequence of a formal complaint about him made by Nama".

Claims now being made by the second ex-Nama official to Paddy McKillen in relation to the leaking of both his and other developers' financial details, if substantiated, may however force Nama chiefs to look again at Enda Farrell's claims and how much weight they attach to them.

Asked last week to respond to the claims being made by this individual, a spokesman for Nama said: "Nama has no knowledge whatsoever of this. Under Section 19 of the Nama Act, anyone with information such as this is required to report it to the gardai."

The admission today by a third former Nama official that he removed a document from Nama headquarters at the request of another former colleague also has the potential to cause yet another headache for Nama as it seeks to protect its reputation in the face of a growing number of claims relating to the potential misconduct of individual employees.

Quite apart from the two cases already referred to them by Nama, detectives at the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation are also actively investigating two complaints made by Mr McKillen against Nama in relation to the alleged leaking of his confidential financial information.

The first of Mr McKillen's complaints was made in August of last year, while the second complaint was lodged last December in response to the claim by former Nama official Enda Farrell that he had personally leaked what he described as a "full file" on the Belfast-born businessman's financial affairs while working at the agency.

The Sunday Independent understands that investigating gardai are treating all three complaints with the utmost seriousness.

It is understood that Fianna Fail senator Darragh O'Brien – whose Seanad intervention last December in relation to alleged misconduct at Nama forced the agency to come out fighting to protect its reputation – has already been interviewed, as has Labour Senator Lorraine Higgins.

The garda fraud bureau may well have another Nama-related investigation on its hands in the near future. The Sunday Independent understands a second major property developer is now preparing a complaint to submit to gardai, alleging that their confidential financial and business information was leaked.

It is understood the developer in question first wrote to Nama about the matter in September 2012, but to no avail. The developer wrote again last December, before writing once more last week.

A spokesman for Nama declined to comment.

Irish Independent

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