Tuesday 21 November 2017

Second top INM executive made complaint to ODCE

INM chief executive officer Robert Pitt. Photo: Tom Burke
INM chief executive officer Robert Pitt. Photo: Tom Burke
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

A second, unnamed senior executive at media group Independent News and Media made a complaint under whistleblowing legislation to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE), it is now understood.

On Tuesday, INM, which owns the Irish Independent, said it was complying with a requirement from the ODCE to produce records in relation to a possible acquisition by the company of Newstalk.

It was reported at that time that the engagement with the ODCE had been prompted by a disclosure understood to have been made by INM CEO Robert Pitt under new whistleblower legislation.

The 'Irish Times' has now reported that a second protected disclosure was also made to the ODCE.

Both approaches to the ODCE are understood to have happened around the same time last year.

Protected disclosures allow an employee or employees to come forward to the State's corporate governance watchdog with information which they believe may provide evidence of wrongdoing found in the course of their work.

'Issue'

"The company does not intend to comment further regarding the ODCE's request and the independent review," a spokesman for INM said.

It is understood that the original complaints, made under the Protected Disclosure Act 2014, were made around the time that INM issued a statement to the stock exchange confirming that an "issue" had arisen between CEO Robert Pitt and INM chairman Leslie Buckley over a possible acquisition of Newstalk.

They are understood to have disagreed about the potential price INM might bid for Newstalk.

The bid talks did not progress. Businessman Denis O'Brien is the largest single shareholder in INM and is the owner of the Communicorp Group, whose assets include Newstalk.

This week, INM said that it had established a formal independent review to examine and inquire into matters concerning the possible acquisition of Newstalk and related matters in December last, before being contacted by the Director of Corporate Enforcement.

Irish Independent

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