01 Oct 2012

The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) is being pressed to disclose what information it has on the £512,000 payoff of a former head of a charity set up to tackle poverty.

Ronnie Saez, formerly the Chief Executive at Glasgow East Regeneration Agency, obtained a half a million pound golden handshake on the approval of the five GERA directors, three of whom were Labour councillors, in January.

John Mason, SNP MSP for Glasgow Shettleston, contacted OSCR asking them to investigate the matter, which they duly obliged to undertake. However, since February 1, they have passed on no further information, despite Mr Mason’s regular requests.

The Shettleston MSP has now written to Enterprise Minister, Fergus Ewing MSP, asking for assistance in pressing OSCR.

Commenting, Mr Mason said:

“I am becoming increasingly concerned about OSCR’s reluctance to disclose what information they may have on the payoff of Mr Saez.

“They have had over eight months to investigate the matter.  Even by their own definition this exceeds their target quoted in their Inquiry and Intervention policy, which states: ‘We aim to conclude inquiries within as short a period as possible and, generally within 6 months’.

“Mr Saez’s morally questionable pay off of over half a million pounds, sanctioned by Labour councillors, needs explained and the public needs to have confidence that the regulator is able to deliver what it is designed for.

“The fact that Mr Saez was in business with Labour Councillor Frank McAveety and has various long standing links with the Labour Party in Glasgow makes you wonder on what basis the pay-off was given the go-head in the first place.

“Perhaps Johann Lamont could reclaim some much needed credibility by publicly distancing herself and her party from any future dealings with Mr Saez.  If she refuses to do this then Mr Saez and Labour are wrapped up in each other both in the past and in the present.

“I have written to Enterprise Minister Fergus Ewing to assist in my efforts to insist that the OSCR give an explanation of who, why and how Mr Saez’s pay-off was decided and to make the whole affair totally transparent.”