Monday 22 January 2018

Fraud squad 
deepens its probe into Nama leaks

Ex-Nama man in garda inquiry now works for major developer

Treasury Buildings
Treasury Buildings
Nama's Brendan McDonagh
Maeve Sheehan

and Maeve Sheehan

A former Nama official under investigation by gardai over the alleged leaking of confidential information has taken up a job with a major property developer whose interests include a valuable property acquired from Nama.

The developer who cannot be named for legal reasons previously bought the property from a well-known Irish builder with Nama's approval. At the time of the transaction, the developer's now business partner was still employed by Nama and directly involved in the management of the portfolio of the builder whose property was being sold.

The Sunday Independent understands that the sale is not the subject of the ongoing garda inquiry and there is no suggestion that there was anything improper about the transaction. Detectives are, however, investigating the former Nama official over his alleged unauthorised disclosure of a highly sensitive document relating to the financial affairs of one of Nama's biggest borrower clients.

Officers attached to the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation initiated their inquiry into the former Nama employee on foot of a referral by Nama in February of last year. The agency brought the matter to gardai after a complaint was made about the former employee shortly after he had left his position with Nama.

It is understood the investigation is being treated very seriously by the garda fraud squad. Several senior figures in Nama have been interviewed and detectives have been trying to find out how the key confidential document at the centre of their inquiries was leaked. Nama chairman Frank Daly disclosed to the PAC last December that "no electronic record exists of the transmission of the document."

The former Nama employee under investigation and his new employer meanwhile continue to show an interest in acquiring assets controlled by Nama both here and overseas according to property industry sources. One person familiar with their movements claimed the developer and the former Nama man have been in direct contact with at least one of Nama's biggest clients in the course of regular business trips to Dublin and have expressed an interest in acquiring his assets. Outside of these visits, the two men are understood to divide their time between the UK and mainland Europe.

Efforts by the Sunday Independent to contact the former Nama employee and the individual who complained to Nama of his alleged misconduct proved unsuccessful. A spokesman for Nama declined to comment.

Apart from their investigation into the alleged unauthorised disclosure by the former Nama employee of confidential information, gardai are continuing to examine over a dozen other complaints made against the agency and individual personnel, past and present.

Last May, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald confirmed to the Dail that gardai were investigating a total of 16 complaints against Nama and said that a senior officer had been appointed to look at all the issues. It is understood several complaints relate to claims that confidential financial information had been leaked by certain Nama employees.

The first case to be brought to the attention of gardai was that of former portfolio manager Enda Farrell. In September 2012, Nama referred Mr Farrell's conduct to the fraud bureau after it discovered through a detailed trawl of his emails that he had leaked a large volume of confidential information relating to the agency's loan portfolio to a number of potential international investors. Nama's sweep of Mr Farrell's emails came in the course of its investigation of his purchase of a house in Lucan from a Nama debtor.

While there was nothing illegal in Mr Farrell's acquisition of the property, the information gleaned by Nama in reviewing the transaction put the former Nama official under an unwelcome spotlight. Mr Farrell's name came to the fore again last December with media reporting of his claim that he had leaked what he described as a "full file" on property tycoon Paddy McKillen's financial affairs while working at Nama.

Such was the furore, Nama chiefs went before the Dail's PAC to defend the agency's record.

Nama's CEO Brendan McDonagh dismissed Mr Farrell's allegations, suggesting that at least some of them seemed to "revolve around" his "personal grievances" while Nama Chairman Frank Daly expressed surprise that "such unquestioning credibility" had been given to allegations" made by an individual under garda investigation.

Sunday Independent

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