The decision by NAMA to report to the Gardai and the Data Protection Commissioner the removal of confidential information from the agency by a former executive should have happened as soon as it emerged that the person had purchased a property from the agency’s portfolio which was not for sale on the open market, according to Fianna Fáil Finance Spokesperson Michael McGrath.
Deputy McGrath stated, “On the day the story broke on The Sunday Times on 5th August, I called on NAMA to refer the matter to the Gardai to investigate under the NAMA Act 2009. Instead, NAMA asked its internal auditors, Deloitte, to prepare a report on the matter. In my view, this was a totally inadequate response to the revelation. NAMA simply did not seem to grasp the seriousness of the situation.
“The house purchase transaction revealed at the beginning of August was of such a serious nature that it should have been referred to the Gardai immediately to establish if an offence had taken place under Section 202 or any other section of the NAMA Act 2009. The fact that an employee of the agency was able to strike a private deal to purchase a property from a NAMA debtor should have set the alarm bells ringing in the agency and the Department of Finance.
“It has now emerged that NAMA believes the former executive may have removed confidential data from the agency without authorisation. In a worrying development, lawyers for NAMA told the High Court that information was taken from the agency in a premeditated way over a number of months. Access to confidential information about NAMA debtors and property assets under the agency’s control would be invaluable to those in the business of purchasing distressed assets in this country.
“It is clear that the compliance procedures within NAMA did not work in this case. Why, for example, did NAMA know nothing whatsoever about this whole affair until a journalist brought it to their attention? I repeat my call for the Minister for Finance to carry out an investigation into what went wrong with the agency’s internal controls to allow this to happen. Confidence in the agency will have been damaged by these revelations. The Minister needs to act quickly now to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.”
Deputy McGrath also repeated his call for NAMA to immediately stop the practice of selling assets under its control without putting them for sale on the open market.