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United to pay $2.4 million fine for flight route benefiting Public Official

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Today, the SEC announced that United had agreed to pay a $2.4 million fine in regards to case where the airline created a route so that a public official could get more convenient flights. The investigation initially arose out of the Chris Christie “Bridgegate” scandal.

Back in 2011, the CEO of United, Jeff Smisek, wanted the New York Port Authority to invest public funds into the Newark Liberty International Airport where the airline has a major hub. The chairman of the Port Authority, David Samson responded by asking the airline to restore a route between Newark and Columbia, South Carolina where Samson had a home. The route had previously been canceled because it lost money.

Smisek, who was the former CEO of Continental in Houston prior to its merger with United, agreed to re-instate the route, (flights twice-weekly starting in September 2012) without going through the airline’s normal protocols regarding new routes and without asking the United Board of Directors for a waiver from United’s ethics and compliance policies.

Samson resigned from the Port Authority in March 2014 due to “Bridgegate” and pled guilty to bribery in connection with the South Carolina route in July 2016.

Within days of his resignation, the Newark-Columbia route was canceled. The SEC found that the route lost $945,000 in the 20 months of operation.

Smisek resigned as CEO of United in September 2015 as a result of this investigation. He received a severance package of $4.9 million in cash and $3.4 million in stock. No word of his fate in the SEC announcement today, though the SEC press release did state the investigation was ongoing. If he is found guilty (or accepts charges) of bribery, he could be forced to repay some of that severance.

New CFO at Huntsman

On November 10, Huntsman Corporation, based in The Woodlands announced that Sean Douglas had been appointed Executive Vice President and CFO. Mr Douglas has been at Huntsman for 16 years and was most recently VP of Corporate Development and Treasurer.

The existing CFO, Kimo Esplin, is appointed as Executive Vice President Strategy and Investment.

In the 8-K filing, the appointments are noted as effective immediately. In the press release, that was also filed with the 8-K, it was stated that the appointments are effective January 1, 2017. Minor oops!

No details were filed on compensation. According to the registration statement that Huntsman filed in February 2016, Mr Esplin had a base salary of $640,025 in 2014 and total compensation of $3.3 million.

 

Crown Castle hires new Chief Accounting Officer

Crown Castle (CCI), a Houston-based wireless infrastructure company, has hired Robert S Collins, 50, as Vice President and Controller, effective January 1, 2017. He replaces Rob Fisher, who announced, back in June, that he intended to retire.

Mr Collins was hired from Alcoa, where he held the same position. Before joining Alcoa in 2005, he worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers for 14 years.

Compensation for Mr Collins was not disclosed.