Nama broke law by not giving developers data, watchdog says

Agency in breach of obligations to Michael and John O’Flynn, regulator rules

Developer Michael O’Flynn.

Developer Michael O’Flynn.

 

The National Asset Management Agency broke data-protection laws by failing to provide developers Michael and John O’Flynn with all of the personal information that it held on them, according to a State regulator.

The O’Flynns recently settled a case against Data Protection Commissioner, Helen Dixon, which required her to rule on the brothers’ complaint that Nama had failed to provide them with all of the information that the State agency held on them.

Ms Dixon agreed to rule on their complaint against Nama by the end of this month.

Her decision, given to the O’Flynns this week, states that Nama is in breach of its obligations to the developers under the Data Protection Acts on a number of fronts.

She says that Nama has failed or refused to provide the O’Flynns with the type of personal data on them that the agency is processing, the data itself, Nama’s purpose in processing it and details of those to whom it may be disclosed.

Ms Dixon adds that Nama has failed to communicate to the O’Flynns the full extent of the personal data that it holds and the source of that information.

Personal details

The brothers gave Nama more than 2,000 pages of documents containing company and personal details when the agency took over the O’Flynn Construction Group’s €1.8 billion bank debt in 2010.

Nama sold the loans to US private equity group Blackstone for €1.1 billion in May 2013.

In September 2014, the brothers made a request to the agency under the Data Protection Acts seeking the personal information that Nama held on them, which should have been supplied to them in 40 days.

The agency gave them limited amounts of information, which the developers argued fell short of their entitlements. They complained to the Data Protection Commissioner in November 2014 and took legal action against the regulator early the following year.

Nama disputed that the data was personal and was instead corporate information as it related to their business and positions as company directors.

Ms Dixon states that she accepts that the information on the construction group’s loans contain at least some personal information. She also finds against Nama’s position that separating corporate and personal data required a “disproportionate effort”.

The agency also argued that it was not obliged to provide data that was subject to legal privilege, could prejudice Nama’s interests or its ability to recover money. The organisation did not dispute the O’Flynns’ rights under data-protection law.

Nama did not comment on Wednesday but said that it would study Ms Dixon’s decision along with its legal advisers. The agency has 21 days in which to appeal the commissioner’s ruling to the Circuit Court.

In a separate action, the O’Flynns are suing Nama because they believe that its former employee, Enda O’Farrell, who was convicted of leaking confidential agency information, passed some of their data to third parties.