Repak has dismissed its long-standing chief executive Andrew Hetherington following an inquiry by accountants Grant Thornton into alleged financial irregularities at the industry-funded recycling body.
Following repeated inquiries this week from The Irish Times, Repak yesterday confirmed its board has terminated Mr Hetherington’s contract. It is understood he was dismissed from his position in March. “The board has now placed the matter in the hands of its lawyers and for legal reasons no further comment can be made,” Repak said.
It is understood the organisation, which has about 2,500 companies as members, will advertise this week for a new chief executive.
Mr Hetherington, who has since returned to his home in Scotland, yesterday confirmed that he had been in legal correspondence with Repak in connection with the circumstances surrounding his dismissal.
He denied any knowledge of any financial irregularities at the company, where he took over as chief executive in 1996. “I don’t know about that,” he said.
Concerns about finances
When asked why he had been dismissed, he replied he did not know. He added he had been in ill in recent months, and declined to comment further.
The board’s chairman, former Gallaher’s tobacco executive Adrian Goodrich, also recently stepped down from his role, although he remains a member of the board. Mr Goodrich is not under investigation in connection with any alleged financial irregularities.
The other directors of Repak, which has an annual income of about €25 million, include former MEP Avril Doyle and Dick Spring, the former Labour leader and Tánaiste.
It is understood concerns about Repak’s finances were brought to the attention of the board early this year.
Shortly afterwards, it is understood Mr Hetherington went on sick leave. The board called in Grant Thornton to help it inquire into the allegations.
Mr Hetherington’s contract was terminated following this probe.
The company, which is licensed by the Minister for the Environment to run a statutory recycling scheme for retailers and other large waste-packaging producers, is now planning a total overhaul of its board and corporate governance arrangements.
Repak intends to appoint six new directors, who will be directly elected by its members in coming weeks. These will include two representatives of the retailing industry, two directors involved in the importation or production of large amounts of waste, one distributor, and one “scheduled member” director representative.
Scheduled members include hotels and other businesses which pay fees to Repak, not on the basis of the waste they produce, like other members, but calculated instead as a percentage of turnover.
The new directors must already be serving members of the boards of Repak member companies, and will sit on the recycling body’s board for up to six years. The elections will begin in the middle of next month.
Repak facilitates its members’ recycling through contracts it holds with major waste companies. It also provides subsidies to local authorities and their waste contractors, and operates a number of recycling ‘bring banks’ for the public.
The organisation’s last set of accounts, for 2011, show it had an income of almost €26 million in membership fees. It had an operational deficit of more than €750,000 that year. Source: The Irish Times