OCI, which was led by a former economic crimes investigator and an agent with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, was brought in to investigate.
A five-page report issued by Martins summarizes the findings of the OCI’s probe in broad terms, omitting many specific details.
Though members of the Office of Corporate Integrity spent months conducting the investigation, their names are not listed on the final report. Martins, whose name is on the report, played a major role in dismantling the unit.
Internal emails at Citizens indicate that Martins’ final report was not as comprehensive as the one drafted by OCI before it was disbanded. It is unclear what information gathered by OCI was left out of Martins’ report.
“It looks like the Integrity Office investigation is being swept under the rug,” said Dan Krassner, executive director of Integrity Florida, which advocates for tougher ethics laws. “Citizens gagged their now-terminated watchdogs with confidentiality agreements, so the public is still just hearing one side of the story.”
While Martins’ report does not name any of the employees involved in the allegations, other reports reveal that several top officials were involved in various improprieties. Some have since resigned. A few examples:
• Susanne Murphy, Citizens’ chief administration officer, was accused of practicing law without being licensed in Florida. She was the target of an investigation into “Falsification or Destruction of Information.” While one report indicated some accusations against her were “unsubstantiated,” she resigned abruptly in August. She will remain on the payroll through Dec. 31, presumably receiving salary, medical benefits and retirement benefits despite not working.
• Citizens’ director of human resources, Gena Buonamici, and General Counsel Dan Sumner both led departments accused of showing favoritism to employees within their units. Both are still with the company.
• Citizens’ former director of underwriting was accused of getting drunk during a Key West business retreat and sexually harassing a co-worker. He resigned abruptly, days before he was to be questioned by OCI. It is not clear whether the employee, who was paid $145,000 annually, received a severance package.
The news of large severance payments to departing employees comes at a time when Citizens has a record amount of cash in the bank due to Florida’s seven-year streak of no hurricanes. The company is under investigation for using corporate cash to fund lavish business trips for executives, including $600-a-night hotel stays.
Citizens — which has more than $6 billion in cash on hand — is also facing scrutiny as it considers shifting $350 million to private companies in the form of low-interest loans.
The improprieties announced Friday add to the swirl of controversy engulfing the state-run insurer of last resort.
“Legislators may want to consider oversight changes for Citizens beyond the rubber stamp board [of directors], to hold them accountable,” said Krassner.
Toluse Olorunnipa can be reached at tolorunnipa@MiamiHerald.com or on Twitter @ToluseO.