Risk Management

Mesa Air Jettisons CFO After Court Ruling

The finance chief was found to have destroyed evidence of a contract breach.
Stephen TaubNovember 5, 2007

Mesa Air Group said on Monday that it has fired chief financial officer George “Peter” Murnane III. The move came just days after the U.S. Bankruptcy Court found that Mesa had violated a confidentiality agreement with Hawaiian Airlines.

Mesa noted that the court found Murnane had “intentionally and in bad faith destroyed evidence” pertinent to Hawaiian’s breach-of-contract lawsuit against Mesa. The court awarded Hawaiian $80 million in damages and ordered Mesa to pay Hawaiian’s litigation costs and attorneys’ fees. The company vowed to appeal.

Hawaiian Airlines had accused Murnane of destroying evidence possibly showing that Mesa Air has used confidential information in launching a low-cost, inter-island carrier, according to the Associated Press. When Hawaiian Airlines was in bankruptcy in 2004, Mesa was considering making an investment in the carrier and was given access to proprietary information.

Murnane was placed on administrative leave on September 21, pending the conclusion of an internal investigation. Mesa launched the review after people from outside of the company reported potential misconduct. The company did not address any details about the nature of the alleged misdeeds but said they do not involve the company’s financial controls, financial statements, or operations.

Efforts to contact Murnane were unsuccessful.

Mesa said Monday that in connection with its appeal, it expects to be required to post a bond or letter of credit as security for the judgment amount. Meanwhile, the company announced that vice president of finance William Hoke will serve as interim CFO.