Leading Auckland real estate company has dismissed staff member who revealed detailed sales information

Leading Auckland real estate company Barfoot & Thompson has sacked an employee who revealed confidential Auckland housing sales data.

The leaked information was then subsequently released to the media by the Labour Party, with Labour asserting that 39.5% of the sales from February through to April involved people with Chinese sounding names.

The release of the information, which based on the large number of house sales could only have come from Barfoots – as it has about 45% of the Auckland market, has caused a firestorm of public opinion this week.

Barfoot & Thompson managing director Peter Thompson said he was “extremely disappointed and saddened at the events that have unfolded over the last few days”.

“While our investigation is still ongoing, we are able to confirm conclusively that confidential data was sent by the identified internal source to a number of individuals, including the media and political figures.”

Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford, who released the information, said it was “extremely disappointing” Barfoots had seen fit to sack the staff member.

“The whistleblower who I worked with wanted to shine a light on what is a very real issue for New Zealand – foreign investment pushing up house prices and shutting people who live here out of the property market.

“This data provided an important snapshot of what’s going on in the Auckland housing market,” Twyford said.

This is the full statement from Peter Thompson:

Initial outcome of internal investigation following the recent disclosure of confidential sales data

I can confirm that following an internal investigation we have terminated the contract of a member of staff who has breached our Policies, resulting in the disclosure of confidential data.

This action was taken after careful consideration of all the facts, and meeting personally with the member of staff involved.

I would like to make five points

  • It would not be appropriate for Barfoot & Thompson to release any details about the member of staff involved at this time or in the future.
  • We can also offer no insights into the motivation of the staff member concerned.
  • This decision was not taken lightly, but we have very clear and well-defined company Policies. It is a basic condition of employment for all Barfoot & Thompson staff that information concerning clients and other staff is without exception treated with the utmost confidentiality, and cannot be disclosed or discussed with other people, unless it is in the proper performance of their duties or with the express approval of the management. Our investigation demonstrated conclusively that in this case a line had been crossed, and the breach of our Policies has provided grounds for dismissal.
  • While our investigation is still ongoing, we are able to confirm conclusively that confidential data was sent by the identified internal source to a number of individuals, including the media and political figures. However, this does not include direct contact with the Labour Party.
  • I am extremely disappointed and saddened at the events that have unfolded over the last few days, and believe firmly the actions of one person should not detract from the extraordinary commitment and integrity of the Barfoot & Thompson team.