Repak, which sacked its chief executive Andrew Hetherington earlier this year following alleged financial irregularities at the industry recycling group, has launched a High Court lawsuit against him and also British Polythene Industries (BPI), a plastics company listed on the stock exchange in London.
It has emerged that Mr Hetherington, who was chief executive of Repak since its inception 16 years ago, was technically on secondment to Repak from BPI, for whom he also worked in his home country of Scotland. BPI is also a member company of Repak, and runs an Irish subsidiary.
It is also understood that Mr Hetherington was paid in the region of €250,000 annually by Repak, despite the fact that he effectively ran the organisation part-time, commuting to Dublin from Scotland for about three days per week.
Repak declined to comment on Mr Hetherington’s salary, which is not revealed in its financial reports. A woman who answered the phone at Mr Hetherington’s Scottish home said he was unavailable for interview.
Repak, which is licensed by the government to run a statutory recycling scheme for larger waste-packaging producers such as the symbol retailers, sacked him in March.
His dismissal followed an investigation by Grant Thornton accountants into alleged financial irregularities at the recycling group, which has annual revenues in excess of €25 million and 2,500 member companies. The investigation came after a tip-off to the board, which included former tánaiste Dick Spring.
It is understood that the investigation into the alleged irregularities that led to the sacking examined expenses charged by Mr Hetherington to Repak, at a time when he was simultaneously employed by BPI.
BPI said it had not yet been served with papers in relation to the lawsuit. “But the company will vigorously defend any legal action taken against it by Repak.” Repak has overhauled its board and corporate governance procedures since the alleged financial irregularities were uncovered.
In recent weeks, it appointed a new board, chaired by former Tesco Ireland boss Tony Keohane. It is run by an acting chief executive, Bob Collins, but the company is currently recruiting a permanent successor.
Mr Hetherington, who went on sick leave from Repak at about the time of the investigation by Grant Thornton, told The Irish Times in April that he did not know why he had been sacked.
He denied any knowledge of any financial irregularities.