PZ Cussons boss stripped of retirement cash after undisclosed payments

The former boss of soap-maker PZ Cussons has been stripped of his retirement payments after the company found a series of payments over several years that he was in charge did not live up to the standards expected of a chief executive.

The maker of Imperial Leather and other personal healthcare products found that veteran boss Alex Kanellis’s conduct had not been up to scratch.

Investigators from law firm Addleshaw Goddard were hired to comb through records when concerns were raised after Mr Kanellis resigned in January, having spent 13 years in the top job.

The lawyers were tasked with looking into allegations surrounding “a number of cash withdrawals and payments made by Mr Kanellis over a period of years”.

PZ Cussons said on Thursday: “These actions had not previously been disclosed to the board and, if substantiated, indicated behaviours inconsistent with what would be expected of a senior member of management.”

After reading the investigators’ findings, the PZ Cussons board concluded that “Mr Kanellis’ conduct fell short of that which could reasonably be expected from the chief executive officer and constituted repeated breaches of his duties as a director of the company.”

As a result, the business will not pay what he was due on retirement.

The money involved is not material to the group, the board added. It has hired independent accountants to review the business’s controls and compliance practices.

PZ Cussons announced that Jonathan Myers will become its new chief executive last month.

Just before Mr Kanellis announced he would step down in January, the company had warned that challenging market conditions in key areas had pushed operating profit and revenue lower.

Business on the UK high street, which was facing challenges even before the coronavirus pandemic hit, was one of the areas that had been hard-hit.

It said at the time that the next six months was expected to be better, unless the economic conditions become worse.

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