Blog: Citizens Property Insurance says review of cases shows good corporate integrity

Feb 27, 2013

The following article was published in the Tampa Bay Times on February 27, 2013:

Citizens:  Review of cases shows good corporate integrity

By Toluse Olorunnipa

Citizens Property Insurance, which came under intense scrutiny last year when it fired four internal investigators, released a report to show that it has not broken the rules when it comes to corporate integrity.

According to a review of 474 cases investigated since 2008, “all complaints were addressed and corrective action taken in accordance with Citizens’ policies in place at the time.” 

Citizens released information about the 474 cases of internal misconduct allegations ranging from sexual harassment to misuse of funds to falsified documents. Citizens Office of Corporate Integrity had investigated many of the allegations, but that office was abruptly shut down last year. The abrupt firings sparked backlash from top lawmakers, after the Herald/Times reported that the investigators had discovered evidence of misconduct by Citizens’ highest executives shortly before they were fired.

Gov. Rick Scott’s chief inspector general is looking into the firings after the governor said he was concerned about the “appearance of impropriety.”

The document released by Citizens is long, but it’s filled with case file information from workplace scandals at Citizens. The document reads like a laundry list of sexual affairs, corporate corruption, workplace pornography, discrimination, theft and other allegations. One case summary references an employee who regularly used his corporate credit card at what appears to be a strip club.

“The preliminary review of outstanding charges disclosed that employee had purchased alcohol on at least six separate occasions and entertainment at an adult entertainment establishment,” the report reads. The employee resigned in 2011.

Citizens is looking to reform itself after a series of scandals last year reported in the Herald/Times, including lavish executive spending, drunken exploits on company retreats, $2.5 million in overpayments to an insurance company and the abrupt disbanding of the Office of Corporate Integrity.

Announced reforms include new restrictions on travel spending, tougher standards for private contracting and new rules for company execs.

Here’s a copy of the 474 complaints.

Here is the full release from Citizens:

Citizens Releases Results of Internal Complaint Review

 TALLAHASSEE, FL – Citizens Property Insurance Corporation’s (Citizens) top auditor on Wednesday said a comprehensive review of 474 cases investigated since 2008 found that all complaints were addressed and corrective action taken in accordance with Citizens’ policies in place at the time.

 The majority of the investigations were prompted by calls and emails submitted by employees to the company’s “Tell Citizens” hotline between 2008 and 2012.

 “Where we found weaknesses, we are making necessary improvements to strengthen our complaints and disciplinary procedures,” said Joe Martins, Citizens’ chief of internal audit.

 In October 2012, a revised complaint intake process was established that specifies Citizens’ Ethics & Compliance Officer will review complaints as they are received and refer them to the appropriate department and, when appropriate, to the Office of the Internal Auditor. This will ensure that complaints are evaluated and investigated more efficiently and effectively.

 The review was conducted following published concerns over the handling of internal complaints prior to changes made last summer. Citizens’ President and CEO Barry Gilway said the review is part of a comprehensive effort to identify areas where improvements can be made.

 “This review is an important piece of Citizens’ ongoing efforts to strengthen internal policies to ensure that our employees are held to the highest standards of corporate integrity,” Gilway said.

 Other steps taken since last summer include a restructuring of Citizens internal audit capabilities to more closely mirror to corporate best practices. Citizens is also bolstering travel and procurement policies to better conform to state guidelines.

View the original article here: