Alberta Health Services CFO let go over spending issues
The AHS has fired their Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Allaudin Merali after a FOIPP request revealed nearly $350,000 in questionable spending.
Published Thursday, August 2, 2012 7:40AM MDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 2, 2012 1:56PM MDT
The expense account of a former top AHS executive will be getting a closer look after documents revealed over $300,000 in questionable spending.
AHS Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Allaudin Merali was let go on Wednesday after documents from years ago surfaced, indicating high tabs for travelling and entertaining.
Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne says that he will be having some serious discussions with the board of the Alberta Health Services over the spending.
"I don't want there to be any doubt that I am outraged and the government is outraged by what has been revealed here."
Horne says some serious questions will need to be asked with respect to the expense claims of senior management, with regards to hiring practices of the AHS, and with respect to many other matters.
AHS received a request under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPP) for records related to expense claims by Mr. Merali earlier this year.
The claims included travel costs, while he was Executive Vice-President and CFO with the former Capital Health Region from January 2005 to August 2008.
The documents requested relate to 146 claims totaling $346,208.
“Mr. Merali’s responsibilities in previous roles in health care included developing relationships with external partners, businesses and service providers and acting as an official representative in numerous meetings and functions. This included hosting events as well as representing the organization locally, nationally and internationally. These were an integral and necessary part of his duties,” said Acting CEO Chris Mazurkewich, Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer.
AHS says that Merali didn’t do anything wrong, but felt that the public wouldn’t be as forgiving with his practices.
Among the costs:
- $1,600 for a meal at an Edmonton restaurant
- $10,000 trip to Spain
- $2,300 for a phone for his Mercedes
Documents also indicate that he submitted two dollar parking receipts for reimbursement.
Merali also worked as a consultant in Ontario, earning a salary of $750,000.
While there, he racked up more trips, hotel stays, and entertainment expenses and made the province foot the bill.
The AHS says they knew about his spending in Ontario when they hired him.
“We went through a search process; it took a number of months. We felt Mr. Merali was the most qualified candidate. We explained our current practices and policies and he was following them.”
Opposition politicians can’t believe that Merali was allowed to work again in Alberta’s health system.
“It seems absolutely excessive and the fact that this was known for years, these were the spending habits. They knew that yet they decided to hire him on anyway. It’s clear there is zero accountability in the system right now,” says Jeff Wilson of the Wildrose.
While Merali wasn’t available to comment on the issue, Health Minister Fred Horne says things are going to change.
Horne said in a statement:
“I am satisfied with the action that has been taken today and I support the decision by AHS to ask the auditor general to validate their current processes and their commitment to make public all future expense claims of executive officials.”
According to contract, Merali is entitled to severance pay, but that amount has not been disclosed.
To see the full list of Merali's spending, click here.