Nama apologises to O’Flynn brothers over leaked information

State agency agrees to pay bulk of developers’ court costs, which could reach €500,000

Developer Michael O’Flynn:  “We think the apology deals satisfactorily with a lot of the issues raised. We were appalled to learn about what happened in 2012.” Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Developer Michael O’Flynn: “We think the apology deals satisfactorily with a lot of the issues raised. We were appalled to learn about what happened in 2012.” Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

 

State agency Nama could face a €500,000 legal bill after apologising in court to developers Michael and John O’Flynn for a former worker leaking their information, legal sources say.

The builders took proceedings against Nama after discovering that former agency official Enda Farrell unlawfully leaked information about them and their business, the O’Flynn Group, in 2012.

Nama’s lawyers told the High Court on Thursday that the agency “wishes to express its sincere regret to the O’Flynns that this should have happened”, while Mr Farrell’s representative also apologised.

The agency pledged to pay a substantial part of the O’Flynns’ costs. Lawyers suggested yesterday that this could run to €500,000 or more, based on the legal teams involved, court appearances and the level of discovery – documents and other material that the parties sought from each other.

In a statement read out in court by Nama’s senior counsel, Paul Coughlan, the agency said that Mr Farrell acted on his own, and once his employer discovered the incident, it immediately investigated him and reported the matter to the Garda.

Repeated requests

The State organisation confirmed that the O’Flynns made repeated requests to it regarding the leaked information and that it did not provide these details until after the brothers and their company took legal action.

The agency regretted that the O’Flynns ultimately had to take court action to obtain the information that was leaked about them and their business.

“Nama wishes to unreservedly apologise to the O’Flynns that they were compelled to take these High Court proceedings before the information requested was provided to them,” the statement said.

Michael O’Flynn said afterwards that he and his brother were satisfied with the outcome.

“We took the action in relation to the unlawful dissemination of confidential information,” he explained.

“We think the apology deals satisfactorily with a lot of the issues raised. We were appalled to learn about what happened in 2012.”

Mr O’Flynn added that they do not intend to take any further action in relation to the matter.

Mr Farrell’s lawyer apologised on the former agency official’s behalf. He confirmed that he had knowingly leaked confidential and commercially sensitive information in relation to the developers and their group.

“I apologise earnestly and unreservedly to Michael O’Flynn, John O’Flynn and the O’Flynn Group for the said unlawful dissemination of this information and for all of the consequences of my actions,” Mr Farrell said.

Suspended sentence

Mr Farrell was given a two-year suspended sentence in May 2016 for unlawfully disseminating confidential Nama information.

In July 2016, Nama confirmed to the O’Flynns that Mr Farrell had leaked their information but gave no further details as the agency said that it was seeking guidance from the Garda.

Mr Justice Robert Haughton struck the matter out with the agreement of both sides yesterday.

Nama’s statement expressed its appreciation to the O’Flynns for agreeing to resolve the case on the basis of an apology.

The O’Flynns and the O’Flynn Group became Nama clients in 2010 when the agency took over €1 billion worth of loans due from their business to Irish banks.

US group Blackstone bought the debt in May 2014 and the O’Flynns subsequently made a deal with the investor clearing their liabilities.