Worner cleared as ASA calls for better communication

03/02/2017 - 11:18

The Australian Shareholders’ Association has called for companies to do a better job of communicating with their shareholders, following the resignation of a Seven West Media director on the eve of today's report on misconduct allegations against chief executive Tim Worner.

The Australian Shareholders’ Association has called for companies to do a better job of communicating with their shareholders, following the resignation of a Seven West Media director on the eve of today's report on misconduct allegations against chief executive Tim Worner.

An independent review of allegations of credit card misuse, drug use and vindictive behaviour, made by former executive assistant Amber Harrison, has concluded the claims are not supported.

The broadcaster's board says there are no grounds to take any further disciplinary action against Mr Worner, who is married, beyond the action which was taken in 2014 when the company became aware of his affair with then employee Amber Harrison.

"The board has addressed all the issues that have been raised and is confident that Mr Worner will continue to run the company in the interests of all shareholders," the company said in a statement on Friday.

The review, by litigation and investigations lawyer Richard Harris, will not be made public but Seven said the investigation found neither Mr Worner nor his office played a part in identifying credit card misuse by Ms Harrison, nor in the payment of a bonus to her.

"Mr Worner did not influence, nor play any role, in the awarding of the bonus to Ms Harrison other than signing the letters which informed her, and other executive assistants, of their bonus," the statement said.

"There were no irregularities in Mr Worner's corporate credit card use.

The statement also said allegations of illicit drug use by Mr Worner could not be substantiated.

It comes just a day after Seven West director Sheila McGregor made a sudden resignation from the company’s board.

Her departure was announced after the close of market yesterday in a three-sentence statement, a move that ASA director Allan Goldin said today was unacceptable.

“For any listed company, a three-sentence announcement about a director who resigns less than two years in the job is inadequate,” Mr Goldin said.

“For a company and its shareholders awaiting the outcome of an investigation into the affair between its CEO and a former employee, the announcement is unacceptable.”

Mr Goldin said given the timing of yesterday’s announcement and this morning’s regarding Mr Worner, it was likely that Ms McGregor’s resignation and the outcome of the investigation were linked.

“However shareholders can only really guess as the company has not told us anything about the resignation,” he said.

“Too often companies release announcements, especially about sudden director resignations, which contain several or even one sentence, with no explanation or commentary on the surrounding circumstances.

Seven West Media is in the business of communication, it is well past time that they started to do this.”

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