Allaudin Merali, the former chief financial officer and executive vice-president of Alberta Health Services, is suing the health authority and health minister Fred Horne for defamation and breach of contract.
Merali was fired from AHS on Aug. 1, 2012, hours before a CBC investigation revealed he had run up nearly $350,000 in expense claims for meals and wine at high-end restaurants between 2005 and 2008 while employed by the former Capital Health Authority.
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In a statement of claim filed on Friday with Edmonton Court of Queen’s bench, Merali says that AHS acted in bad faith by terminating his contract which has made it difficult for him to find a new senior executive position in Canada. He says AHS has continued to illegally deny him severance pay.
Merali further claims that he was defamed when Health Minister Fred Horne said at a news conference that he was "outraged" and "dumbfounded" by the spending, even though Horne knew the expenses had been approved by Capital Health.
“The defamatory statement was false and made by the minister with malice and with the deliberate intention of discrediting the financial and personal reputation of the plaintiff and exposing the plaintiff to loss of reputation, financial loss, distress, and embarrassment,” the court document says.
None of the allegations in the statement of claim have been proven in court.
Merali is seeking $5.5 million dollars in damages plus $610,937 a year in lost wages since he was terminated in August 2012.
In addition to Horne and AHS, Merali is suing two unnamed individuals who were agents, employees or representatives of AHS or the Alberta government.