Alberta Minister of Finance Doug Horner speaks to the media outside the Alberta Legislature, Aug. 2, 2012.
Credits: DAVID BLOOM/QMI AGENCY
CALGARY - The man who spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on meals and car upgrades among other things will not walk away from his job with a severance.
Alberta Health Services confirmed Monday its former chief financial officer, Allaudin Merali, will not be paid out following the termination of his contract last week and also announced a third party forensic audit of his expenses will be done.
Only hired to the post in May, Merali resigned after it was revealed he'd racked up $346,000 in expenses during his role as CFO with the former Capital Health Authority from 2005 to 2008.
Merali, who also has a history of running large bills in Ontario, expensed lavish meals, taxi rides, car washes, gas and upgrades to his Mercedes among other things.
Now, an audit conducted by an external accounting firm still to be appointed, will determine if the expenses adhered to policies and practices under the former Capital Health region as well as AHS' current ones.
"An arm's length audit is essential," AHS president and CEO Dr. Chris Eagle said, adding though he can't speak to concerns prior to the formation of Alberta's health superboard, he expects a thorough review.
"Public confidence is paramount."
Acting board chairwoman Catherine Roozen said the audit will be expedited and publicly released.
Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne, who said he is "outraged" at the expenses, instructed AHS to give the audit firm authority to expand the review if need be.
He requested the auditor general's report with respect to AHS' expense and travel policies be delivered to him and said along with Don Scott, associate minister of accountability, transparency and transformation, he will announce a further review of hiring, selection and contracting priorities for AHS.
"If Albertans are going to have confidence in our health care system, it is imperative that they know we are doing everything we can to ensure we never see something like this again," Horne said.
But Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith was not impressed, dubbing the moves "major damage control."
"This is a government that takes care of their pals," the opposition leader said, adding officials are "recycled" into new roles within the government, allowing corruption to fester.
Smith said she wants to see detailed receipts from all AHS officials, including board members and representatives from the former health regions, dating back to 2005.
Merali's case is likely "not an isolated" incident, she said.
Smith added when government officials' expenses are made public, they are grouped into categories such as meals or accommodation and aren't broken down into specific charges.
"You need to see that kind of detail," she said.