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QBE CEO dismissal a mystery

QBE has remained quiet over why former chief executive, Pat Regan, was dismissed last September or why he was forced to leave without his share rights worth $10 million.

Regan was dismissed after an external investigation over an issue of workplace communication, where the QBE board concluded it did not meet the standards set out in the group code of ethics and conduct.

At the House Standing Committee on Economics, deputy chair Andrew Leigh, asked if it was due to Regan’s position on the board of online consultancy firm Expert360, for which he had joined two months earlier.

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Jonathan Groves, QBE chief risk officer, and Chris Esson, chief financial officer, said both they could not add anything to the public statements that had been made.

Asked if they had looked to other conflicts of interest beyond the former with regards to Expert360, Grove said: “We have a conflicts of interest process, appropriate for a public organisation such as QBE and it’s my understanding the process was appropriately followed”.

Expert360 listed QBE as one of the organisations that services it used, but neither Groves nor Esson would confirm QBE retained its services.

Asked if QBE approved of the board directorship that Regan took on, Groves said: “We have a robust conflicts of interest policy, which we operate as an organisation and to my understanding that was assessed at the time”.

Leigh asked whether the dismissal process was handled correctly, particularly regarding any severances or pay-outs due.

“It’s interesting that in a world where we worry about golden handshakes, that Mr Regan was forced to go without his share rights which had been estimated at some $10 million. Do you see that as your processes working effectively?” Leigh said.

Both denied they knew the basis of the termination and did not feel they were being kept in the dark.

“I don’t think that’s the case; QBE as a group has made statements that are clear in this regard,” Esson said.

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