Former Nama employee is likely to face charges
Garda intensifies investigation into the agency following Enda Farrell case
At least one former Nama employee is likely to face charges following significant developments in the Garda investigation into the agency. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times
Significant developments in the Garda investigation into the National Assets Management Agency (Nama) are imminent with at least one former employee likely to face charges and another expected to have charges against them laid out in detail.
The developments stem from last May’s successful prosecution of ex-Nama official, Enda Farrell, who received a two-year suspended sentence after pleading guilty to giving hundreds of Nama’s property valuations to investment companies QED Equity Ltd and Canaccord Genuity.
The Garda Fraud Squad has continued to investigate, partly on foot of Farrell’s detailed disclosures but also because of allegations from other sources.
A file on one individual has been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions. The allegations include the alleged illegal sharing of valuations of Irish and British properties.
Mr Wallace published online a facsimile of an email from Michael George, the managing director of Fortress Capital, an underbidder for the portfolio, sent to Andrew McDowell in Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s office on February 13th 2014.
In it, Mr George writes: “We’ve heard that NAMA/Dept of Finance is running a ‘process’ for the loans to NI borrowers. Being from the North I’ve taken a keen interest in this €4bn portfolio and would like to throw our hat in the ring. Might you have any insight as to how we can get involved?”
Mr Wallace noted that Nama chief executive Brendan McDonagh told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Thursday that it was “completely untrue” that Fortress had to email the Department of the Taoiseach for permission to bid.
However, a Nama spokesman said that Mr Wallace’s questioning of Mr McDonagh was “outrageous and completely incorrect”.
The agency had also received an email from Mr George on the same day. It was passed on to Lazard, the agency’s advisor on the sale of Project Eagle.
Nama said Mr McDonagh had explained to PAC in detail how Mr George contacted them.
“He emailed me on the 13th of February, 2014,” Mr McDonagh told the committee.
“My email is available to the [committee], there’s nothing in it. Basically saying, ‘Brendan, how’s it going?’ Talked about the rugby match at the weekend and said, ‘I just heard through one of my colleagues that the Northern Ireland portfolio may be on the market, it’s something I’d be interested in’.
“I forwarded the email to my colleague and said, ‘please let this guy, get Lazards to contact him because, you know, I met this guy, and I had no issue with him. I would know Fortress in my previous life.
“And it was, Fortress were brought, they were contacted by Lazards, I think that evening on the 13th of February.”
The spokesman added: “Nama has recently been forced to correct Deputy Wallace in respect of incorrect statements he has made in respect of the Fortress bid and it is regrettable that he is compounding this situation by making further false claims now.”