Monday 11 December 2017

'Third Man' fuels NAMA leak fears

The Treasury Building on Grand Canal Street Lower where NAMA is based
The Treasury Building on Grand Canal Street Lower where NAMA is based

Ronald, Quinlan Special Correspondent

A major property developer has claimed that a former senior Nama official told him he could provide him with confidential information up to and including the minutes of Nama board meetings to assist his business in its dealings with Nama.

The extraordinary claim is contained in a contemporaneous note which the businessman sent to a number of his business associates following a meeting in which the former Nama official is alleged to have offered to help them "behind the scenes".

While the Sunday Independent has seen a copy of this correspondence and is aware of the former official's name as a consequence, we are precluded for legal reasons from identifying him today.

Repeated efforts by this newspaper to contact the individual in question for comment on the developer's account of their meeting proved unsuccessful.

The Sunday Independent has confirmed from three sources with detailed knowledge of the matter, however, that the meeting referred to in the correspondence was just one of a number of face-to-face contacts between the developer and the former Nama man.

Quite apart from his claim that he was offered assistance in his dealings with Nama, the businessman told his associates that the man he had met informed him that there had already been a "possibility" of his working with another major Nama debtor following his departure from the agency.

Today's revelation opens up the possibility that Nama may now be faced with having to refer the actions of a third former employee to gardai for investigation.

The agency has already made formal complaints against former portfolio manager Enda Farrell for leaking confidential information relating to its loan portfolio to a number of potential investors and in relation to a second and as yet unidentified former employee over the "possible unauthorised disclosure of a single document".

As is the case with its parent body, the NTMA, all employees assigned to Nama are subject to Section 14 of the National Treasury Management Agency Act 1990. This prohibits them from disclosing any information obtained while carrying out their duties as an employee of the NTMA.

Nama employees are also subject to a specific prohibition on the release of confidential data under Sections 99 and 202 of the National Asset Management Agency Act 2009 as well as the provisions of the Official Secrets Act.

Contravention of these various legislative prohibitions is a criminal offence.

The prohibition on disclosing confidential information applies indefinitely and extends to former employees.

Today's disclosures may further fuel concerns in political circles in relation to the ability of Nama to protect the highly sensitive and valuable information it holds in relation to its debtors' portfolios, and its strategy when dealing with them.

It will certainly be of concern to Nama's chief executive, Brendan McDonagh, and to its chairman, Frank Daly, coming as it does within weeks of the controversy which blew up over a series of entirely separate claims made by former Nama portfolio manager Enda Farrell both in relation to the agency's modus operandi and his own conduct while working there.

Arguably the most sensational and potentially serious allegation made by Mr Farrell is that he passed confidential information held by Nama in relation to the financial affairs of property tycoon Paddy McKillen to a third party.

Defending the agency's record against Mr Farrell's latest claims in an urgently arranged appearance before the Dail's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on December 20 last, Mr Daly expressed his surprise that "such unquestioning credibility" had been given to "a series of allegations about Nama advanced apparently by an individual who is currently under garda investigation as a consequence of a formal complaint about him made by Nama".

Mr McDonagh, meanwhile, sought to dismiss the claims, suggesting that at least some of the allegations seemed to "revolve around" Mr Farrell's "personal grievances" or were his "personal views".

He confirmed that apart from the case of Mr Farrell, Nama had referred a second former employee to the gardai last February over the "possible unauthorised disclosure of a single document".

He said: "The matter was brought to Nama's attention shortly after the employee left Nama and it was immediately referred to the gardai."

Mr McDonagh told the members of the PAC that there was no connection between the second case referred to the gardai and the case of Mr Farrell.

A spokesman for Nama did not respond to queries.

Irish Independent

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