Vita Cortex chiefs got €250k lump sum deals

TWO senior executives of the Vita Cortex operation in Cork received severance pay in excess of the amount needed to secure agreed redundancy payments for the 32 workers engaged in a sit-in at the plant.

The two managers received a full pension as well as lump sums of €250,000 each in the last 12 months — amounts totalling €100,000 more than the company is obliged to pay to give the workers their agreed redundancy of 2.9 weeks per year of service.

The full amount needed to fund the redundancies is just over €1 million, but because the closure of the plant predates the last budget, the state will pay 60% of that amount. Since January 1, the state’s contribution to redundancy payments has been slashed to 15%.

Earlier yesterday the workers’ union, SIPTU, demanded that a forensic examination be made of the group’s accounts, amid concerns that assets transferred between the 15 companies in the group may cloud the full extent of the total wealth of the group and its owners, Jack Ronan and Sean McHenry.

The owners announced in September that they intended to close the Cork plant, stating that the operation’s assets had been frozen by NAMA. In December, NAMA refused to release funds to pay the workers’ redundancy, claiming they are held in related, but legally separate, company accounts.

“SIPTU and the workers are anxious to ensure there has not been any attempt to move assets and funds between related and unrelated commercial entities with the aim of frustrating company creditors and long-serving employees from receiving monies to which they are legally entitled,” SIPTU organiser Anne Egar said.

The workers, who have occupied the plant since December 16, have stated they will maintain the protest until the company makes definite provision to meet their outstanding redundancy payments.

Ms Eager said: “It is very important that somebody in NAMA or the Department of Finance carries out a forensic examination of the entire group to establish the connectivity between the 15 companies within it and how assets are moved between the companies in the group.

“This will help to establish whether monies have been moved out of the Cork plant into other companies which would have provided enough to pay the redundancies agreed originally and paid to others.”

That view was echoed by Labour Party TD Ciarán Lynch, who said a key piece of machinery at the plant in Cork was transferred to Vita Cortex in Athlone just prior to the Cork plant’s closure.

“If these two companies are one and the same, it means there is still a company trading profitably that can meet those redundancy payments. A forensic examination of the entire group is essential.”

The Cork based operation, Vita Cortex Industries Ltd, is a subsidiary of Vita Cortex Holdings, which is ultimately owned by Vita Fife Five Ltd, a company wholly owned by Jack Ronan.

According to the Companies Registration Office, Mr Ronan holds or has held directorships in at least 29 other companies.

* A delegation from the Technical Electrical and Engineering Union will be at the Vita Cortex plant today at 11am in a show of solidarity with the workers.

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Among the other directorships formerly or currently held by Jack Ronan are:

* Brad Holdings Ltd

* Castleblake Transport Ltd

* Danron Ltd

* Enfer Scientific Ltd

* Enfer Technology Ltd

* Equine World Tty Ltd

* Giro Properties Ltd

* Glenfurrow Company (Isle of Man)

* Glenfurow company (New Zealand)

* Louis Ronan & Co Ltd

* Meat Proteins (Ireland)

* Mega Save Investments Ltd

* Mocklerstown Holdings Ltd

* National By Products

* Nicklewise Investments Ltd

* Nutrigrow Ltd

* PIC Ireland Ltd

* PIC Ireland GTC Ltd

* Print Works Ltd

* Rennard Pig Farms Ltd

* Robinwave Ltd

* Ron Pro Ltd

* Ronan Technologies Ltd

* Tarb By Products Ltd

* Tipperary Raceway Ltd

* Vita Five Five Ltd

* Web Circle Ltd

* Wee Care Ltd

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