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Citizens’ CEO Responds To Miami Herald Article About Corporate Integrity Office

Barry Gilway, President/CEO and Executive Director of CItizens Property Insurance Corp. has sent a letter to the Editor of the Miami Herald expressing his disappointment at the Herald’s recent article regarding the closure of the company’s Office of Corporate Integrity. Last week the miamiherald.com reported (and we cited in our last post) that Citizens had dismantled its Office of Corporate Integrity by firing the four officers in charge of these investigations. Among those employees were T.W. Smart, a former senior official with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement who ran the Office of Corporate Integrity; Selisa Daniel, a former economic crimes investigator with the attorney general’s office, and two other employees. At the time Citizens stated that they were let go because they lacked the necessary expertise to handle the type of high-level fraud taking place at the company.

Moreover, the miamiherald.com article continued, no forensic accountants (or any other staff) had been hired since the office was dismantled.

Citizens Executive Disagrees

According to miamiherald.com, Mr. Gilway states in his letter that the company’s corporate integrity functions have not been eliminated but re-aligned and “placed under other business units to ensure we are following corporate best practices for investigating allegations of potential employee fraud or misconduct.” Mr. Gilway further states that “these changes will better define, strengthen and streamline our corporate integrity review procedures, enabling us to more proactively identify, investigate and deter potential internal fraud and policy violations.”

In his letter, Mr. Gilway repeats what a corporate spokesperson said before regarding the former Office of Corporate Integrity lacking people with the financial forensics expertise that would allow the identify and initiate investigations of potential internal fraud or policy violations. In fact, Mr. Gilway continues, most complaints investigated by OCI turned out to be workplace complaints and employee performance issues more appropriately handled by management and Employee Relations.

Forensic Accountants Wanted

Finally, Mr. Gilway says that Citizens is actively looking for the best forensic accountants candidates and that once those are found and hired, they will join the Office of Internal Audit (OIA) as part of a team that will oversee a complete internal fraud prevention and detection program and report directly to the company’s Board of Governors. According to Mr. Gilway, having the Office of Internal Audit report directly to the Board of Governors “will ensure objectivity and insulate investigators from any potential for reprisal”.

According to Mr. Gilway, these situations will be handled as follows: an attorney from their legal department will fill the position of “Citizens Ethics Officer” and will be responsible for processing all ethics policy violation reports and assigning them to the appropriate unit. While internal fraud reports are assigned to the Office of Internal Audit, workplace and performance-related complaints will be assigned to Employee Relations.

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