Kingspan sacked US executive over alleged leaks

Insulation group alleged the former president of its US insulation business leaked data and failed to disclose links to recruiter used to fill key posts

Eugene Murtagh, group chairman Kingspan, at an annual general meeting of shareholders.  Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

Eugene Murtagh, group chairman Kingspan, at an annual general meeting of shareholders. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

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Listed Cavan-based insulation giant Kingspan sacked one of its most senior US-based executives in December and has alleged he leaked confidential company data, according to documents filed in a Florida court.

Kingspan also alleged that the executive, Irish man Kevin Kelly, “pushed” the company to buy services from a recruitment firm he co-owned.

The case was “resolved” in recent weeks before Mr Kelly filed a legal defence to the allegations against him. Judge Roy Dalton ordered on February 9th that the case be dismissed after Kingspan filed a notice of “notice of voluntarily dismissal without prejudice”.

Mr Kelly was the president of Kingspan’s sprawling insulation panels business in the US for two years until he was sacked in December for a “total breach of trust”, the court documents alleged.

He was also a director of the US division and also oversaw its panels business in Mexico and Canada. He previously ran Kingspan’s insulation panels business in Australia and southeast Asia, and worked for the group for more than a decade.

In its court complaint, Kingspan alleged Mr Kelly set up an headhunter called Brookes & Whelan in 2015, in which it says he had a 50 per cent stake.

In mid-2016, it says Kingspan’s US panels business was hiring for senior positions including a head of marketing for the US and a general manager for Mexico, who would be paid about $200,000 each.

Kingspan alleged Mr Kelly “pushed” for his business partner in Brookes & Whelan to be contracted to recruit for the positions, but concealed the fact that he co-owned the business.

Brookes & Whelan was paid $64,000 in fees for finding candidates for three positions. Kingspan says it only found out Mr Kelly co-owned the recruiter after he was sacked.

It further alleges that, in January last year Mr Kelly emailed excel files containing “sensitive data” to a “potential supplier. . . with whom he socialises”. Kingspan suggested the data could have been used to help the recipient undercut existing suppliers, and that it only found this out after he was sacked.

It also alleges he emailed, on several occasions, “highly sensitive” data on steel pricing and contract data to another outsider in the steel industry who was, allegedly, “part of his social circle”.It also alleged he emailed further pricing and contract data to the gmail account of an individual in the steel industry only identified as “MR” in breach of company policy.

It says that in late 2016 it decided to sack Mr Kelly “due to a total breach of trust and confidence” in him. It agreed a $500,000 payoff with him, although the agreement required Mr Kelly to state he was not in possession of confidential data.

The company alleges some of the emails it uncovered after it sacked him show he breached this agreement, prompting the lawsuit.

Mr Kelly did not respond to detailed queries about the allegations made against him.

The company said:“Kingspan has robust policies and procedures in place to protect proprietary and commercially sensitive information, which are routinely enforced as necessary. This matter is now fully resolved to the company’s satisfaction, and no further action is being taken.”

Clarification

In our edition of  March 3rd last, we published an article headed “Kingspan sacked executive over leaks”. The article concerned legal proceedings filed by Kingspan against Mr Kevin Kelly in the Florida Middle District Court. Mr Kelly’s solicitors have contacted us to say that the proceedings were dismissed at Kingspan’s request and that as such, any allegations made against him by Kingspan were withdrawn. Mr Kelly resigned his employment with Kingspan on December 9th 2016.
 

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