For the most part, former Nama employee Enda Farrell sat stony faced in the dock on Thursday as the sorry tale of his misdeeds dating from 2012 was explained to Judge Karen O'Connor in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
He has pleaded guilty to eight charges of leaking potentially commercially sensitive information to third parties between May and July 2012, some months after leaving Nama.
These actions breached two sections of the Nama Act 2009, which underpinned the establishment of the agency, gave it extensive powers, and made Farrell’s actions a criminal offence.
It also ruined his life. And for what?
Both prosecution and defence counsel told the court that Mr Farrell had not profited personally from his actions nor had Nama suffered a financial loss from his leaks.
Farrell was an employee of the National Treasury Management Agency, under whose umbrella Nama was formed. When he moved over in January 2010, he was one of the first five staff members and was involved in the valuation of assets being transferred from the domestic banks.
The picture painted by his counsel, Michael Bowman, was of a highly pressured environment with Farrell working around the clock. On one side, he had the banks, who were worried about the impact on their balance sheets, complaining about their assets being undervalued, while his superiors in Nama, conscious of the need to make a profit down the line, were on his case about them being overvalued.
Initially, the haircut that was to be applied to the loans was to be “in the region of 30 per cent” but it ended up being “closer to 60 per cent”, the court heard.
“He was working 12 hour days, seven days a week,” his counsel said. “He was stuck in the middle between the banks and Nama.”
He wasn’t the type of person to ask for help. In the end, he was given the assistance of an intern from KPMG.
The court was told how a culture grew in Nama whereby staff became “desensitised” to the confidential information they were dealing with.
Farrell left Nama in February 2012 and took a job with Forum Partners, a UK-based property company. It was at this point that he began to share the confidential information with others.
Before leaving Nama, Farrell emailed documents to a third party who then forwarded them on to his Yahoo account. Nama’s IT security system meant that emails could only be sent to business addresses.
Between May and July 2012, he began emailing information to individuals at QED Ltd, and Canaccord Genuity Ltd.
The documents related to properties connected with the Cosgrave property group, Harcourt Developments and Pat Doherty, developers Paddy McKillen and Michael O'Flynn, borrowings held by Anglo Irish Bank, properties in Germany held by three Nama debtors, and hundreds of hotels that were placed into Nama.
This information dated back to late 2009 and was arguably of limited value to the other parties but leaking it was still a criminal offence. Farrell told investigators he thought he was advancing the interests of Nama.
Farrell comes from a farming background in Dunboyne, Co Meath. His only other brush with the law relates to what were described as six minor road traffic offences dating back to 2015.
His wife also lost her job following the emergence of the leaks and the couple moved to Belgium in 2013, where they live with their three children. She is back in employment but her job requires her to travel a lot and Farrell was described as the primary carer to their children.
The court heard how they have been left “utterly financially destitute” after selling all their assets to settle civil proceedings connected with the Nama leaks.
In his favour, is his “very high degree” of co-operation with gardaí, pleading guilty to the charges. This avoided the need for a lengthy and complicated trial and was in spite of uncertainty over whether he could be extradited from Belgium.
His case is unique, being the first action to be prosecuted under the Nama legislation. It might well be the last one, too, given that Nama is in wind-down mode.
Farrell could receive up to five years in prison and a fine of €5,000. He will learn his fate on May 12th.