RSA aims to draw a line under troubles at Irish arm

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More Than owner RSA Insurance sought to draw a line under the scandal at its Irish arm yesterday after an independent investigation found “inappropriate collaboration” among the division’s managers led to a £200m hole in its finances.

The report, led by PricewaterhouseCoopers, confirmed the issues were isolated to Ireland and alleged executives sought to deliberately sidestep group governance controls.

RSA said Irish finance boss Rory O’Connor and the division’s claims director Peter Burke were fired over the issue yesterday following a disciplinary and appeals process.

Irish chief executive Philip Smith had already resigned after being suspended.

But RSA revealed yet more woes as it said the severe flooding in the UK and Ireland over Christmas, combined with the ice storms in Toronto, would further hit 2013 figures.

The group has been rocked after its Irish crisis contributed to three profit warnings in six weeks in the run-up to Christmas, which led to the resignation of group chief executive Simon Lee.

RSA executive chairman Martin Scicluna said: “The issues which emerged in our Irish business in 2013 were completely unacceptable and I have made it my personal priority to ensure that this never happens again.

“We acknowledge that there are lessons to be learnt and we are tightening elements of our control and financial framework in response to these events.”

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) confirmed that further writedowns were not needed on top of the £200m set aside to cover the Irish accounting hit.

But shares fell 2 per cent amid fears over RSA’s balance sheet strength and as Panmure Gordon analyst Barrie Cornes said the latest weather losses amounted to “yet another profit warning”.

RSA said it was too early to put a figure on the impact of the weather claims, but Mr Cornes estimated profits could be knocked by another £35m. He added it was likely the final shareholder dividend would be axed.

A routine internal audit flagged up problems in the group’s Irish arm in November, which it said would result in a £70m profits hit but a month later the amount set aside was increased by £130m.