In what is likely to be a very interesting case before the Commercial Court, the Irish Times reported today that the National Asset Management Agency (“NAMA”) had earlier this month obtained a High Court injunction against an ex employee requiring him and his wife to hand over all documents, communications and materials containing confidential information relating to the agency. The parties were also ordered not to destroy damage or conceal any of the materials being sought. It was reported that the ex employee may have removed confidential information without consent from the agency.
The paper reported that the ex-employee, Mr.Enda Farrell purchased a property as his principal private residence in Lucan from a Nama debtor earlier this year. The house was one of the properties which NAMA had previously taken under its control from a businessman Mr. Thomas Dowd and that Mr. Farrell did not inform Mr. Dowd he was a NAMA employee nor did he tell NAMA he had purchased the property. The Agency requires full disclosure in relation to the purchase of private properties by members of staff.
In proceedings that were held in camera, the agency sought the order so it could take a comprehensive and accurate record of all the confidential information it alleges was taken from the agency and what had been done with it. NAMA was successful in obtaining the injunction after investigators discovered that over the course of several months, Mr Farrell had unlawfully removed and disseminated more that 30 emails with file attachments containing “highly confidential and commercial sensitive information” to his wife.
The information, it is claimed, includes a master spreadsheet of all loans acquired by NAMA and all properties acquired as security for the loans. It also includes specific asset disposal strategy in relation to certain NAMA debtors and other information acquired in confidence by NAMA.
NAMA alleges that this breach of confidence relates to sensitive commercial information relates to loans and properties with a combined value of many billions of euro. It also claims that the alleged behaviour by the defendants may constitute a criminal offence.
When the case returned before the High Court today, Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan lifted the in camera order on the proceedings, and deemed the matter could be heard in public. Counsel for NAMA asked that the case be admitted to the Commercial Court and stated that the agency believed a serious breach of confidence had occurred.
Ms Justice Finlay Geoghegan said that she was prepared to admit the case to the Commercial Court and adjourned the case to next month.