Nama staff faced ban on buying its property
THE NATIONAL Asset Management Agency considered banning staff from buying any properties from its borrowers following the controversy over the unauthorised purchase of a Co Dublin house by one of its managers from a debtor.
Frank Daly, chairman of Nama, said that the board had discussed a total staff ban on purchasing any properties supporting its loans.
The agency instead thought a “proportionate response” was to limit staff to buying residential properties where the properties were intended for use as homes once Nama approved it and the property was openly marketed.
He told the Oireachtas finance committee that Nama had tightened rules requiring staff to seek approval to buy any property so that they could be checked against the agency’s property register.
Purchases where Nama has an interest in the property and it is a commercial property are banned.
Nama will also force all purchasers of property in which it has an interest to declare whether they are closely connected with a Nama staff member, said Mr Daly.
This rule is also being applied to 240 staff at Nama and 500 staff who manage loans for Nama at Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (formerly Anglo Irish Bank), Bank of Ireland and AIB.
The changes were recommended by Nama’s internal auditors Deloitte, which reviewed the unauthorised purchase of a house in Lucan, Co Dublin by a senior portfolio manager at the agency, Enda Farrell, from a Nama debtor.
Deloitte later found that Mr Farrell had also removed confidential data from Nama without its authorisation by emailing information to his wife, who worked at Ernst Young, who in turned emailed it on to his personal email account.
Nama has taken legal action against the Farrells, and told the Garda that a criminal offence may have been committed.
Mr Daly acknowledged that the affair had caused reputational damage to Nama but it had not commercially damaged the agency or been prejudicial to its debtors.
One other Nama employee is subject to investigation, he said, but declined to say more. As far as he could see Mr Farrell’s actions were a “one-off” incident, he said.
Deloitte checked 164,000 emails sent to and from Mr Farrell during his time at Nama and previously, at its parent, the National Treasury Management Agency, from 2005 to 2012, including 92,000 since 2009, said Mr Daly.
Mr Farrell was found to have sent 33 emails with key information to 10 unnamed recipients.
Mr Daly said he was “disappointed” that the recipients had not contacted Nama to say that they had received the information but he did not think Nama could include them on a “banned list” of companies it would not deal with.
Nama had “extremely robust” security processes in place but no organisation can “absolutely guarantee that it will not have a theft of its data,” said Mr Daly.
Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty said that the theft of data only came to light in the aftermath of a report about Mr Farrell’s house purchase in The Sunday Times.
Mr Daly said “a cooling-off period of two years” for ex-Nama staff moving to new companies, as suggested by TD Richard Boyd Barrett, was not proportionate and would be costly. Fewer than 200 of 3,500 deals agreed by Nama had been conducted off-market.