More court drama for Spliethoff with dismissed director
The multipurpose specialist Spliethoff is once again facing a former director in court. The company decided to terminate his contract once it was found that he sent controversial emails from his company email to members of the Eerste Kamer (Senate) of the Dutch Parliament, strongly criticising the COVID-19 policy. Additionally, it was later found that he also pushed his opinions on colleagues and business connections.
The dispute between Spliethoff and the former director was brought before the summary proceedings judge on Wednesday, October 18. The shipping company argued that its ex-director is delaying his retirement by refusing to sell his company certificates back in the hope that they will increase in value. The company further stressed that the process is being delayed by its ex-employee in the hope of greater personal gain. However, the former director states that the price offered by the company for his certificates is well under the actual value.
The employment contract between the shipping company and the director was terminated last year, without severance pay. The ex-director appealed the decision, however, following a hearing earlier this year, the court ruled that the man had acted culpably. According to the court, he acted contrary to the principle of good employment.
Despite his suspension and eventual dismissal, the former director received a transition payment. However, he appealed the decision in court, seeking additional fair compensation of over 3.5 million euro gross. He also claimed in his appeal that he could keep the right to retain shares in the vessel-owning companies in order to continue receiving dividends.
However, Spliethoff argued in the new hearing that this refusal to sell his certificates back comes from spite.
Spliethoff, one of the largest shipping companies in the Netherlands with approximately 1,200 employees and a fleet of dozens of its own ships, has had to deal with several controversial issues within its management in recent years.
The company has previously faced two of its high-ranking officers in court. A deputy finance director was fired after he was caught forging the signature of an employee of the accounting firm KPMG on the 2019 annual accounts. He was also found to have embezzled another 2.5 million euros. In a payback settlement, it was revealed that he had also forged the signatures of his wife and mother.
This case also affected the CFO, who was involved in the fraudulent activities of the deputy director. He was also fired. They were both accused of taking trips at the shipping company’s expense, including a private jet flight to Abu Dhabi for the Formula 1 Grand Prix. The dismissed directors alleged that the shipping company had allowed a culture of little control to develop.