East Phoenix-based Mesa Air Group said Friday it placed its chief financial officer on administrative leave while the company investigates his conduct in an ongoing lawsuit with Hawaiian Airlines.
George “Peter” Murnane III will be on leave for up to three months, pending the review, said Chairman and CEO Jonathan Ornstein.
This review was initiated by Mesa following reports by people outside the company of potential misconduct. The alleged misconduct does not involve the financial controls, financial statements or operations of the company, Mesa said.
“Peter has served Mesa and its shareholders well for many years,” Ornstein said in a statement. “While it would be inappropriate to discuss the specific nature of this matter while an internal review is ongoing, we are able to confirm to shareholders that the conduct being investigated does not involve the financial operations or performance of the company.”
Hawaiian Airlines alleges Murnane destroyed evidence that could show that Mesa misused confidential information to launch its inter-island carrier go! in June 2006. The operation links Honolulu to the neighbor island airports of Hilo, Kahului, Kona and Lihue.
Hawaiian filed court papers in U.S. Bankruptcy Court alleging Murnane deleted files on three computers that contained Hawaiian’s business plan and other information. The suit contends that Mesa violated a confidentiality agreement by using proprietary information, gathered as a potential investor during Hawaiian’s bankruptcy.
Hawaiian’s filing cites a recently discovered e-mail from Murnane in which he is alleged to have sought advice on how to delete files.
Hawaiian’s lawsuit is scheduled for trial on Sept. 25.
Until the investigation is complete, the company said William Hoke, vice president of finance, will continue to be responsible for financial and accounting functions of the company and will perform the duties Murnane.
“Our policy is to comply with only the highest ethical standards of conduct and, if we become aware of a potential or alleged violation of such standards, to conduct an appropriate investigation and to take appropriate remedial action when warranted,” Ornstein said. “We will report the outcome of the company’s investigation as soon as it is completed.”
Mesa operates 185 aircraft with over 1,100 daily departures to 184 cities, 45 states, the District of Columbia, Canada, the Bahamas and Mexico. Mesa operates as Delta Connection, US Airways Express and United Express under contractual agreements with Delta Air Lines, US Airways and United Airlines.