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Premier asks for outside review of Nalcor CEO severance package

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – The Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador has asked the province’s auditor general to review a $1.4-million severance payment made to former Nalcor Energy president and CEO Ed Martin.

Dwight Ball announced on Sunday that he is referring the question of Martin’s severance package to “an independent outside agency” at the recommendation of the provincial justice department.

In a letter addressed to Auditor General Terry Paddon, Ball pledged the government’s “full cooperation” in the investigation of circumstances surrounding Martin’s exit.

Martin abruptly resigned from the provincial Crown corporation behind the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project in a cloud of controversy that has enveloped the house of assembly for more than a month.

In the last week, Ball has said that the former Nalcor board fired Martin without cause the same day he stepped down, triggering a severance payment amounting to more than twice the CEO’s salary.

The board disbanded shortly after Martin’s departure, saying it had lost the confidence of government.

Members of the Progressive Conservative opposition have been grilling Ball about what he knew about Martin’s exit and when he knew it.

Ball has said he didn’t learn details about the severance package until May 5.

The province has spent almost $4.8 billion building the dam and power house on the lower Churchill River, the largest publicly funded project in its history.

When he left on April 20, Martin indicated the departure was his decision and said he had no regrets about how the Muskrat Falls project was managed.

“I’m extremely proud of the accomplishments we have all achieved as a company. Nalcor is our province’s heritage fund and we should all be very proud,” he told a news conference at the time of his resignation. Martin has not commented publicly since then.

The Liberal Government, which came to power last fall after 12 years of Progressive Conservative rule, named Martin’s successor the next day.