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Saturday 25 November 2017

Crisis grows for Nama as gardai widen inquiry into 'corrupt acts'

Labour Senator Lorraine Higgins. Photo: Tom Burke

THE crisis at NAMA deepened as it was revealed the agency has made a criminal complaint against a second former employee.

Political pressure mounted on the secretive state property agency for full disclosure of alleged suspicious transactions by its former officials.

Further revelations are expected to emerge in the High Court in the coming days.

The Irish Independent also learned that lawyers acting on behalf of property developer Paddy McKillen have written to the Garda Commissioner claiming that "inexplicable behaviour" by an officer of NAMA has "seriously jeopardised" his business interests.

In the letter, seen by this newspaper, Mr McKillen's lawyers claim that personal information relating to the businessman was released to a third party.

In particular, he alleges that information about his "banking facilities" was leaked.

"Our client requires this matter to be immediately investigated as he (McKillen) continues to be severely prejudiced by such actions," the letter states. Mr McKillen says that he is keen to meet with detectives on the issue as a matter of urgency.

Today , Fianna Fail  senator Darragh O'Brien has announced that he will contact An Garda Siochana in relation to alleged impropriety at NAMA.

The Dublin North politician claims he has documentation which will rock the State agency to its core.

He told the Seanad that he will bring the documentation - which contains allegations about the leaking of information by NAMA officials - to the gardai.

Meanwhile, as questions were raised about activities inside the world's largest property company, NAMA confirmed that gardai have been asked to investigate a second former official at the agency.

Fraud detectives are now involved in a wide-ranging probe into claims of 'corrupt acts' at NAMA.

Already they have questioned former employee Enda Farrell who leaked sensitive commercial data to a number of outside companies. That investigation is ongoing.

Now it has emerged that a second middle-ranking employee is also under garda scrutiny.

Sources at NAMA said last night that no current staff members are under investigation.

In an entirely separate development Senator Lorraine Higgins used Seanad privilege to allege that former NAMA portfolio manager Paul Hennigan left the agency and immediately took up employment as a partner with another property company in the UK.

Mr Hennigan has never been suspected of any wrongdoing and is not the subject of any investigation.

The Labour politician called on NAMA to review its contracts of employment so that valuable information gleaned by its employees could not be utilised when they left.

"I outlined that this situation significantly undermines NAMA's ability to recover the optimum amount for its assets and for the Irish taxpayer, given the information this individual has relates to valuations on the property, the loan amounts and the amount NAMA might accept for any one of those properties," she said.

Speaking to the Irish Independent Mr Hennigan, who happened to be in Dublin to celebrate his 40th birthday, said that the senator's comments were totally unjustifiable. "I have never ever dealt in anything since the day I left NAMA on any related issues whatsoever," he said.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has been in contact with NAMA about the revelation that a second ex-employee is under investigation.

Mr Noonan said there was a full garda investigation ongoing and anyone with information was obliged to provide it under criminal law

"If anyone has new information, under Section 19 of the Criminal Justice Act, they are obliged to under pain of penal sanction, to provide that new information to An Garda Siochana. I would advise them to do so," he said.

NAMA has employed 350 people in total over the past four years.

Paul Williams Special Correspondent

Irish Independent

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