Former NAMA official avoids jail for leaking confidential information

Enda Farrell
Enda Farrell

A former official with the National Asset Management Agency who leaked potentially sensitive information has been given a two year suspended sentence.

Enda Farrell (40) sent confidential information about the NAMA valuation of hundreds of properties to named individuals in the investment companies QED Equity Ltd. and Canaccord Genuity.

The tranches of records covered properties from major developers, NAMA's hotel portfolio and NAMA properties in Germany. Farrell told investigators that he thought he was advancing the interests of the agency.

Farrell, of La Reine, Avenue Louise Brussels, Belgium and formerly of Dunboyne, Co Meath, pleaded guilty to eight counts of unlawfully disclosing information, in breach of the 2009 NAMA Act, between May and July 2012.

The court heard it was not part of the prosecution case that Farrell had materially benefited from his actions or that NAMA's ability to do its business had been compromised.

Judge Karen O'Connor at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court noted the aggravating factors included the breach of trust involved and the fact Farrell had taken steps to bypass the security system.

She noted in mitigation that he had admitted his wrongdoing and returned voluntarily to this jurisdiction.

She took into account he has suffered a loss of personal and professional reputation and accepted his fall from grace has had a psychological impact.

Judge O'Connor imposed a two year sentence which she suspended in full.

During the sentence hearing last month Detective Garda Gareth Lynch from the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation told the court Mr Farrell had access to huge amounts of highly confidential information which were potential commercially valuable.

The leaked information included lists of properties that had been taken into NAMA and valuations placed on them in November 2009.

The properties included those linked to developer Paddy McKillen, the O'Flynn Group, Tiger Developments, Harcourt/Pat Doherty Group, and the Cosgrave Development Group.

One tranche of information sent by Farrell included valuations of hundreds of hotels owned by different developers sent to Kenneth Rouse in QED Ltd.

Farrell, a married father of three, did not profit from the disclosures and NAMA was not at a loss as a result of them, Det Gda Lynch said.

Michael Bowman SC, defending, said once the offences emerged his client lost his job and was left destitute by civil proceedings.

He has compromised his future employment prospects by actions based on poor judgement, counsel said.

Counsel said he rather naively said that he was only seeking to further NAMA's interests and objectives in disseminating the records.

Kerida Naidoo BL, prosecuting, said it was not part of the prosecution case that Farrell had advantaged himself by his actions or that his actions compromised NAMA's ability to do its business.

Det Gda Lynch agreed with Mr Bowman that Farrell was very co-operative with gardaí once the investigation began. 

The court heard Farrell came under enormous pressure while carrying out his valuation role in NAMA.

“Pressure built up, he was getting it from both ends,” Mr Bowman said, describing how the banks complained that he was undervaluing their portfolios and his bosses at NAMA complaining he was overvaluing them and they would not be able to sell them to the market and make a profit.

“He was working 12 hour days, seven days a week. He was stuck in the middle between the banks and NAMA,” counsel said.

Mr Bowman said that a culture grew in NAMA where people became desensitised to the confidential nature of information. He said when his client brought attention to the pressures he was under to his bosses he was told to “just get on with his job”.

In a testimonial given to the court Farrell's wife described the level of his commitment to work by saying “he was living on his Blackberry”.

She said he was now a broken man who had little, if any self worth.

The court heard Farrell, who came from a farming background, was a dedicated and caring husband and father.

The couple moved to Belgium after they lost their jobs and he was now the sole carer for their children while she worked.

Det Gda Lynch told Mr Naidoo that Farrell had worked previously for the National Treasury Management Agency before he moved to NAMA in 2009.

He worked at the early stage of evaluating of properties taken over by NAMA.

In the months before he left NAMA to go to a new job he emailed the tranches of records to a third party who emailed them to Farrell's own Yahoo account.

He did this to avoid a security feature in NAMA's email system which only allowed emails to be sent to business email addresses and blocked Yahoo or Gmail accounts.

Farrell left NAMA in February 2012 to work for Forum Partners, a UK based property company. While there he began emailing the records out from his Forum Partners email account.

In May 2012 he emailed Mr Rouse in QED Ltd. information about properties linked to the Cosgrave Group.

 He later sent information about the Paddy McKillen loans which NAMA had taken over from Anglo Irish Bank, AIB plc and Bank of Ireland to Mr Rouse.

On July 24 Farrell sent records to Mr Rouse relating to up to 70 properties linked to the O'Flynn Group's Tiger Development.

A month earlier he disclosed a spreadsheet detailing NAMA's portfolio of properties located in Germany to Ray McMahon from Canaccord Genuity Ltd.

Asking the court for leniency Mr Bowman said his client had come under enormous pressure while working for NAMA and that this compromised his judgement.

He said the prosecution of this case had already sent out a stark message to anyone in the business world tempted to engage in similar behaviour.