Ex-Nama employee investigated
The National Asset Management Agency has confirmed an ex-employee purchased a property as his principal private residence from a Nama debtor.
Enda Farrell, a former portfolio manager with Nama, bought the five-bedroom house in Lucan, Co Dublin, earlier this year.
The house was one of the properties owned by businessman Thomas Dowd which Nama took under its control. Mr Dowd paid €1.4 million for the property, Sundaywell, in 2004.
The agency has brought High Court proceedings against Mr Farrell and his wife Alice Kramer.
Mr Farrell did not tell Mr Dowd that he was a Nama employee when purchasing the property, nor did he tell Nama that he had bought the house, which has been used as a family home.
Nama's internal auditor Deloitte conducted a review of the property transaction, which established that the sale of the property was transacted at market value. The review established Mr Farrell had no role in the assessment or approval of the transaction by Nama. It also established he did not disclose the transaction to the agency, which said it requires full disclosure in relation to the purchase of private properties by members of staff.
Nama today said confidential information may have been taken from the agency without authorisation.
Earlier this month, the agency obtained a High Court injunction requiring Mr Farrell and his wife, of The Motte, Knockudder, Dunboyne, Co Meath, to hand over all documents, communications and materials containing confidential information relating to the agency. They were also ordered not to destroy damage or conceal any of the materials being sought.
In proceedings that were held in camera, the agency sought the order so it could take a comprehensive and accurate record of all the confidential information it alleges was taken from the agency and what had been done with it.
It obtained the injunctions after claiming that its investigators discovered that over the course of several months Mr Farrell had unlawfully removed and disseminated more that 30 emails with file attachments containing "highly confidential and commercial sensitive information" to his wife.
The information, it is claimed, includes a master spreadsheet of all loans acquired by Nama and all properties acquired as security for the loans. It also includes specific asset disposal strategy in relation to certain Nama debtors and other information acquired in confidence by Nama.
It is also alleged Mr Farrell, who now works for a global property investment firm, sent emails containing confidential information to other parties involved in property management and investment.
Nama alleges that this breach of confidence relates to sensitive commercial information relates to loans and properties with a combined value of many billions of euro. It also claims that the alleged behaviour by the defendants may constitute a criminal offence.
When the case returned before the High Court today, Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan lifted the in camera order on the proceedings, and deemed the matter could be heard in public.
Frank Callinan SC for the defendants told the court that his clients had fully co-operated with the orders made by the court, and would continue to do so.
Cian Ferriter SC for Nama, who acknowledged the couple's co-operation, asked that the case be admitted to the Commercial Court, the business division of the High Court. Counsel said the agency believed a serious breach of confidence had occurred.
Counsel added that since obtaining the orders against the couple, the agency's investigations are continuing. It needed to be in a position to get to the bottom in order to identify the extent of any misuse of the information, he added.
Ms Justice Finlay Geoghegan said that she was prepared to admit the case to the Commercial Court. The judge, noting the defendant's concern about the significant costs involved in Commercial Court proceedings, adjourned the case to next month.
She said the court wanted to know when the matter returns before the court if the agency intends to proceed with a claim for damages against the couple.
Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil TD Michael McGrath today called for on the Minister for Finance to investigate the “extremely serious and damaging” breakdown of controls at Nama.
“The fact that an employee of the agency was able to strike a private deal to purchase a property from a Nama debtor should have set the alarm bells ringing in the agency and the Department of Finance,” he said.
Mr McGrath also repeated his call for Nama to stop the practice of selling assets under its control without putting them for sale on the open market.