Marketing consultancy paid ex-CEO €65,000 but he threatened customer disclosure unless paid €135,000
A former chief executive in a consultancy marketing firm has threatened to publicly divulge the names, addresses, and bank details of customers of “the largest mobile phone company in the State” unless paid €135,000 by this morning, the High Court has heard.
Ex-CEO Sean McGrath told his former employer, Madcalm Ltd, Monksland, Athlone, Co Roscommon, that “you don’t want to fuck with me on this”, Ms Justice Miriam O’Regan heard.
Ryan Baird, a company director with Madcalm, told the court that Mr McGrath warned him at a meeting that he had data files on the mobile phone company’s customers and that he already had a third party lined up to distribute them.
“If you don’t pay me the money I will fuck you guys and if you try to go to anyone else about this I will fuck you,” Mr Baird claimed Mr McGrath had told him before leaving the meeting.
Barrister Brian Conroy, counsel for Madcalm, obtained injunctions restraining Mr McGrath from disseminating by any means to any third parties the confidential information he claimed he would distribute to others. He was allowed to serve Mr McGrath notice of the court’s order to his email yesterday.
Judge O’Regan also restrained Mr McGrath from threatening, approaching, or communicating with any official of Madcalm or its clients.
Mr Baird told the court that Madcalm provided consultancy marketing services to telecommunications companies, particularly mobile phone operators to assist them in acquiring and retaining customers.
He said Mr McGrath had been made a director, CEO and 20% shareholder in October 2011 but, three years later, differences of opinion led to Mr McGrath’s exit from the company and he had been bought out and paid €65,000.
Mr McGrath had contacted him on August 23 and arranged a meeting at which he claimed he valued his worth to Madcalm at €200,000 but had been paid only €65,000 and demanded a further €135,000.
Mr Baird said when he told Mr McGrath he was not comfortable or willing to have a discussion with him for additional money, Mr McGrath told him: “Well you need to be because I can ruin you guys. You don’t want to fuck with me on this.”
Mr Conroy told the judge that Mr McGrath had texted Mr Baird telling him he could be engaged on a consultancy basis for 18 retainer payments of €7,500 (amounting to €135,000), with a first payment due in his bank account by this morning.
Mr Baird said Mr McGrath had sought to extort money from Madcalm by threatening to ruin the company’s business through disclosing confidential information which he unlawfully had taken from the company in breach of confidence and in breach of his exit agreement.
To assist with a marketing campaign in 2013, Madcalm had been permitted by the largest mobile phone company in the State to copy certain information in relation to its customers and through an administrative error the files included personal bank account details of those customers.
The error had been identified soon afterwards and the details, in compliance with data protection legislation in the mobile phone business, had been permanently deleted. Mr McGrath would have been well aware of this.
Mr Baird said disclosure of “this sensitive personal information” could very seriously damage Madcalm’s business and have a very serious effect on the individuals whose data was threatened to be disclosed.
“It is quite conceivable that it could destroy Madcalm, given that he has threatened to disclose the information immediately if not paid the first instalment on Tuesday, 20th September,” Mr Baird said.
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