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Sunday 25 February 2018

Nama beefs up data restrictions on departing staff

NAMA’s Brendan McDonagh
NAMA’s Brendan McDonagh

RONALD QUINLAN, Special Correspondent

NAMA has increased the restrictions it places on employees who leave to take up positions with private firms that might have an interest in acquiring Nama-controlled assets and loans.

Fears that former Nama staff could use information from their time with the agency to confer advantage on their new employers has prompted Nama's parent body, the NTMA, to tighten the conditions it imposes on them once they depart for the private sector.

Specifically, any employee leaving Nama in the future will be forbidden from assisting their new employer in any transaction with which they might have "participated directly or substantially" in the course of their employment with Nama, and for which they could be "in possession of confidential information as a result".

The prohibition on former Nama employees from providing such assistance is to apply for periods of between three and six months, depending on the specific circumstances of the transaction.

Confirmation of the new restriction which is to apply to all new Nama employees and existing employees as they are promoted was given by Finance Minister Michael Noonan in response to a parliamentary question tabled by Fianna Fail TD Dara Calleary last week.

In his reply, the minister also pointed out how all past and present employees of Nama were already subject to the provisions of the Official Secrets Act and the NTMA and Nama Acts, which prohibited them from disclosing any of the confidential information they had handled at the agency. Concerns have been growing for some time now in political circles over the ongoing exodus of Nama staff to the private sector.

Appearing before the Dail's Public Accounts Committee on December 20 last, Nama chief executive Brendan McDonagh confirmed that 62 of the agency's officials had left since its establishment at the end of 2009.

Asked by Sinn Fein TD Mary Lou McDonald what contacts, if any, there had been between those former employees and Nama or Nama developers with regard to the acquisition of Nama properties, Mr McDonagh said: "Yes, we are aware of a number of people who left us and who joined firms which bid for NAMA assets."

But while the Nama chief executive conceded that he had "no control" over any individual once they had left the agency, he insisted neither they nor the firms who employed them enjoyed any advantage when it came to bidding for the properties on its books.

"As I have outlined very clearly in the past, where people are bidding for assets, the best defence Nama has is that those assets are marketed openly and that everyone has access to the relevant data and information," he said.

Sunday Independent

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