NAMA CEO Brendan McDonagh willing to meet developer Paddy McKillen

Friday 20 December 2013 23.02
Frank Daly and Brendan McDonagh addressed allegations made against NAMA in recent days (Pic: Laura Hutton/Photocall)
Frank Daly and Brendan McDonagh addressed allegations made against NAMA in recent days (Pic: Laura Hutton/Photocall)

National Asset Management Agency Chief Executive Brendan McDonagh has said he is willing to meet the developer Paddy McKillen, who is taking a High Court action against the agency.

Both Mr McDonagh and NAMA Chairman Frank Daly attended the Public Accounts Committee today where they answered questions about a series of allegations about the conduct of the agency, including complaints by Mr McKillen.

Independent TD Shane Ross asked Mr McDonagh if he thought it was insensitive or malicious to sell loans associated with Mr McKillen to business rivals the Barclay brothers, whom Mr McKillen was involved in a commercial battle with.

Mr McDonagh said it was purely a business decision and that there was another bidder for the loans as well.

He said he had last met Mr McKillen in February 2011.

Mr McDonagh and Mr Daly agreed they were both willing to meet Mr McKillen to discuss his grievances with the agency.

Earlier, the PAC heard that Mr McKillen was taking a civil case against NAMA, which the agency has filed a defence on. 

NAMA now expects the case to go to trial in the High Court. 

Meanwhile, Mr McDonagh said he believed there had been "a carefully orchestrated operation" to damage NAMA and undermine the financial interests of the State.

Earlier this week, a NAMA spokesman confirmed the agency reported a second former employee to gardaí for allegedly sharing information unlawfully.

A separate investigation into another employee is at an advanced stage, according to gardaí.

Mr McDonagh told the PAC that NAMA itself was not given access to the detail of the allegations and was only made aware of them on Wednesday. 

He said NAMA understood that the new allegations had been made by an ex-employee, Enda Farrell, who is currently the subject of investigation by the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation, following a referral to them by NAMA in September 2012.

Mr McDonagh said NAMA understood that the allegations being made by Mr Farrell have been circulated to certain members of the Oireachtas and to certain media outlets.

NAMA internal auditors to review e-communications

Mr McDonagh said Mr Farrell had made a claim of unauthorised disclosure by him, alleging he provided a "full file" of personal information relating to Mr McKillen to a particular third-party. 

He said NAMA, over the last 36 hours, requested its own internal auditors to review all electronic communications between Mr Farrell and this third-party.

Mr McDonagh said there was no evidence from the search to date that any information relating to Mr McKillen was transmitted electronically.

He said NAMA had very little information relating to Mr McKillen.

Financial information would ordinarily be expected to include sworn statements of affairs, lists of unencumbered assets, borrowings with non-NAMA institutions and so on.

NAMA had never possessed this information in relation to Mr McKillen because the NAMA board took a decision in July 2011 not to acquire Mr McKillen's loans, he said.

Regarding the second case relating to a complaint made to NAMA of a possible unauthorised disclosure of a single document by another ex-employee, Mr McDonagh confirmed that it was referred to gardaí by NAMA in February of this year.

He said there was no electronic record of the transmission of the document. He added that there was no connection between this case and the earlier case of Mr Farrell.

On the issue of property valuations, Mr McDonagh said the allegation that NAMA engaged in a deliberate process of manipulating the valuation of property, which was collateral for its acquired loans, was untrue.

He said NAMA utterly rejected the allegation.

Mr McDonagh also referred to media reports that Mr McKillen had made a complaint to gardaí about NAMA. 

He said NAMA had not seen the complaint and so could not know what it related to. 

Mr Daly said it is hard to avoid the conclusion that there may be an attempt to undermine NAMA or influence its decisions. 

NAMA will not be intimidated or influenced, he told the PAC.

He said staff at NAMA do not deserve to have a shadow cast over them.

Mr Daly also said the agency has state-of-the art security processes and systems and it is continually looking at improving them.

He said there are logistical and IT arrangements in place to make it difficult to access widespread information.

Mr Daly said there were no other investigations than the two referred to.