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right wrongLiberty Tax has established a Code of Conduct hotline to report violations of the code, which was amended in July 2018. That change follows last year’s firing of CEO John Hewitt and the sale of his control of the copany this year, and issues which have been characterized as problems with the "tone at the top".

In a proxy filed for the year ended April 30, the company said it has imposed a range of behavior requirements, including those for ethical standards for day-to-day activities and identifying conflict of interests. 

Hewitt was fired on Sept. 5, 2017 was fired after an investigation found employee allegations the former CEO could be heard having sex in his office. He was also accused of favoring several female employees with whom he allegedly had relationships. Liberty was sold to Vintage Tributum, which elected a new board of directors.

Liberty’s problems led to the exit of several executives, whose reported salaries reflect the rapid turnover. These included both voluntary and involuntary departures with three CEOS, three CFOs and three auditing firms employed from the beginning of September 2017 through June.

These included Edward Brunot, who joined the company as COO in June 2017. He was named president and CEO in September 2017 and was fired by a Hewitt-controlled board on February. As a result, he was paid $2.7 million for the year, which including $1 million under a change-of-control clause in his contract.

Nicole Ossenfort, who became CEO after Brunot, was paid $125,000 for the year after taking her job in February, but has an annual salary of $450,000. The new ownership kept her in office when it took power. Ossenfort was also paid a cash bonus of $225,000 and granted $325,000 in restricted stock units and $325,000 in stock options, vesting over three years. The company awarded her a $75,000 relocation bonus and a housing stipend of $2,000 per month from February 2018 through April 2019.

Shaun York, named as COO in February, was paid $80,722 for fiscal 2018. However, he is earning a salary of $300,000; a cash signing bonus of $150,000; and $200,000 in restricted stock units and $200,000 in stock options, which vest over three years. York also was given a $90,000 relocation bonus and a housing stipend of $2,000 per month from February 2018 through April 2019.

Vanessa Szajnoga, VP and general counsel, who was fired in February along with three other executives, was paid $1.25 million. That included a $131,250 retention bonus she received right after Hewitt was fired and $460,835for her own departure. CIO Richard Artese, who also left in February, was $791,361, including a retention bonus and a $367,875  settlement.

Kathleen Donovan, who resigned in CFO in December, received $546,712, including $134,349 settlement. She was also paid $172,525, for a January through March consulting contract, which was terminated in February.  Nicholas Bates, CFO from December through June, was paid $771,474, including a $37,260 retention bonus and $6,263 at the end         

Michael Piper, formerly VP of financial products, was paid $608, 996. He left in September 2017, declining the retention bonus. But he rejoined Liberty in June 2018 with an annual salary of $346,000, a cash signing bonus of $200,000, along with $250,000 in restricted stock units and $175,000 in stock options, which vest over three years.

Last modified on Tuesday, 06 November 2018
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