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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Bra-swinging, big severance checks and fired watchdogs at Citizens Insurance

17

November

 The corporate watchdogs who were recently fired from Citizens Property Insurance Corp. had uncovered evidence of favoritism, improper compensation and poorly handled investigations at the highest levels of the state-run company.

A report reviewed Friday by Citizens’ Audit Committee shows that one of the final investigations conducted by Citizens’ Office of Corporate Integrity targeted top senior officials at the company. The four corporate watchdogs were investigating how Citizens had handled previous allegations of sexual harassment, drunken disrobing, irregular severance payments, falsified documents and other improprieties by employees.

All four investigators were given termination notices last month.

The report released Friday “focused on the mishandling of investigations, the mishandling of discipline and the mishandling of Citizens’ funds,” said Chief Internal Auditor Joe Martins, who recently decided that the Office of Corporate Integrity was no longer needed at Citizens.

The investigation by the now-terminated employees found that, among other things, Citizens:

• Gave large severance packages to some top employees accused of misconduct, including more than $80,000 to an underwriting executive who resigned after being accused of “inappropriate behavior” with another employee.

• Gave only a warning to its deputy director of human resources after she got drunk at the Coyote Ugly bar in Tampa, removed her bra and danced on top of a table during a company retreat.

• Failed to complete certain investigations or did not file them into the official complaint system, potentially shielding them from public view. Certain employees were shown favoritism after they were discovered breaking company policy.

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[Last modified: Saturday, November 17, 2012 10:07am]

    

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