At an emergency meeting on Tuesday (09Feb21), the Board of Directors of Liege Airport has decided to sack CEO Luc Partoune with immediate effect. According to local media, internal audits by Deloitte revealed some 40 ‘irregularities.’
On 01Feb21, Luc Partoune was interrogated by Deloitte auditors on a series of irregularities shown in the documents analyzed that came to light during the examination of business processes by Deloitte experts. The accusations are grave. They consist of fictious employment, manipulated public contracts, unjustified expense reports, non-compliance with bidding and public procurement procedures, as well as other inconsistencies and possible mismanagement. In a nutshell, the Deloitte watchdogs reproach Mr. Partoune with unjust enrichment and corruption.
This includes the hiring of consultant Jean-Claude Phlypo 2 years ago. According to his agreement with the airport, Mr. Phylo was allowed to bill five days of work each month at 1,000 euros, for a total of 60,000 euros per year. According to corroborating sources, this consultant rendered real services only once or twice during the last 24 months.
In search of a new CEO
Moreover, his recruitment just over two years ago was not preceded by any call for tenders.
Last Monday, the Deloitte findings were presented to the airport's audit committee, and approved, to the point of considering dismissal for serious misconduct. Confronted with the urgency of the case, the directors met on Tuesday (09Feb21) and voted unanimously in favor of the CEO's dismissal.
His position will be taken by Deputy General Manager Frédéric Jacquet on a temporary basis.
In a press release Liege Airport announces that a recruitment procedure will be launched very soon to appoint a new CEO. In a statement, the Board members stress that the main concern is to maintain the confidence of all employees and the support of partners to keep the airport running as effectively as possible, following the ousting of Liege boss, Partoune, who became CEO in 1994.
For the reputation of the Walloon airport, the sacking of Partoune following corruption charges is a hefty blow, contrasting its positive overall performance. According to 2020 traffic figures, Liege's throughput grew remarkably, totalling 1,220,000 tons (+24% y-o-y). This makes LGG one of the few European airports whose business grew last year.
Marcel Schoeters / Heiner Siegmund
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