Update: see previous posts – February 10. 2013 ORNGE: Chris Mazza of ORNGE Got $4.6 Million in Two Years, February 4, 2013 ORNGE: Dr. Chris Mazza Enjoyed Lavish Getaways On the Taxpayer’s Dime, February 3, 2013 ORNGE: Mount Sinai Orders Review of Hospital’s ‘Agreement’ with Chris Mazza After Toronto Star Exposes Agreement, January 19, 2013 ORNGE: Highest Paid Ontario Civil Servant (1.4 Million Annually) Chris Mazza, Lived Lavish Lifestyle, December 28, 2012 ORNGE: ORNGE Sets Up Policy to Protect Whistleblowers in Wake of Scandal, December 20, 2012 ORNGE: New Leader of ORNGE Will Only Receive Half the Compensation of the Former Leader and Founder Dr. Chris Mazza, November 9, 2012 ORNGE: Chris Mazza Wanted Out, but Board Didn’t Want Him to Go, August 3, 2012 ORNGE: Government Probe of ORNGE Ends For Summer Break & other posts
ORNGE has sold its two surplus helicopters at a loss to taxpayers of $2 million.
The AgustaWestland choppers were part of the original order of 12 helicopters that ORNGE founder Dr. Chris Mazza said was necessary to service Ontario patients. But those two helicopters were outfitted with seats, not medical equipment, and were never used as air ambulances.
At Queen’s Park, Progressive Conservative MPP Frank Klees said the sale is yet another reminder of the many failures at ORNGE.
The Star exposed the extra two choppers, which it tracked to a warehouse in Philadelphia, in a story in January 2012. ORNGE has been looking for a buyer ever since.
Wednesday, new ORNGE president Dr. Andrew McCallum announced that the two choppers, purchased at a cost of $22 million, have been sold for $20 million.
“ORNGE has taken another important step in addressing legacy issues inherited from previous leadership,” McCallum said in a release.
“Our objective has been to recoup as much of the original investment as possible. With this sale, we will no longer incur ongoing storage, maintenance and depreciation costs.”
The two AW139 helicopters have been sold to Wilmington Trust of Delaware. The company’s website describes it as “one of the largest and strongest bank holding companies” in the eastern United States.
The Star’s ongoing investigation revealed that ORNGE, at Mazza’s direction, purchased 12 helicopters despite a needs analysis that said only nine were needed.
Klees and other MPPs on the ORNGE committee questioned former ORNGE board chair Rainer Beltzner Wednesday for the third time and Klees noted that “you and your board authorized the purchase” of the 12 helicopters.
Beltzner, who also signed off on hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal loans to Mazza from ORNGE, said there was “nothing suspicious at the time” about questionable business dealings at ORNGE, such as a $6.7-million marketing services agreement$6.7-million marketing services agreement with AgustaWestland — a deal that is now under investigation by the Ontario Provincial Police.
“I don’t think there’s anything we could have done differently” as a board in oversight of ORNGE, Beltzner said later, noting the board based its decisions on information provided by management at the air ambulance service.
Beltzner blamed the accountability agreement between ORNGE and the Ministry of Health for giving the air ambulance service too much independence and suggested a lack of provincial oversight contributed to the problems at ORNGE.