FirstEnergy on Monday named Antonio Fernández vice president and chief ethics and compliance officer. His appointment, which becomes effective April 12, comes amid U.S. government scrutiny over a corruption scandal.
Fernández will report to Hyun Park, senior vice president and chief legal officer, and the audit committee of the board. He will also collaborate closely with the compliance oversight subcommittee of the audit committee, the company said.
Fernández’s experience includes nearly five years as chief compliance officer with nonprofit group North American Electric Reliability Corporation and as privacy officer of the Public Service Enterprise Group, “where he led PSEG’s ethics, compliance, and privacy programs; counseled senior management and the board on the compliance program; and provided advice on ethics, compliance, privacy, and cyber-security matters,” FirstEnergy said.
Before joining PSEG in 2016, Fernández was with GE Power. During his five years at GE, he held various roles of increasing responsibility in the company’s compliance program, including as chief compliance officer for GE’s nuclear business.
“Antonio’s skills and experience will be instrumental in reinforcing FirstEnergy’s core values and behaviors and further embedding compliance, ethics, and integrity into the company’s culture,” said Donald Misheff, non-executive chairman of FirstEnergy’s board, in a press release. “We are confident that he will build on the proactive steps the board and management are taking to address challenges and rebuild trust with stakeholders.”
Steven Strah, who was named chief executive officer at FirstEnergy earlier this month, added Fernández’s “fresh perspective will be invaluable as we create an environment in which every member of the team views ethics and compliance as critical organizational and personal imperatives.”
FirstEnergy became embroiled in a federal corruption scandal concerning a racketeering conspiracy in Ohio that resulted in the state’s Speaker of the House, Larry Householder, and four others being arrested and charged by the Department of Justice in July 2020. The conspiracy allegedly involved $60 million being paid to nonprofit group Generation Now (which was also charged) to pass and uphold a billion-dollar nuclear plant bailout. The bill directs more than $1 billion in state subsidies to nuclear power plants formerly owned by a FirstEnergy subsidiary.
In recent months, FirstEnergy has fired its former Chief Ethics Officer Ebony Yeboah-Amankwah, former Chief Legal Officer Robert Reffner, and former CEO Charles Jones. It also terminated its SVP of product development, marketing, and branding and its SVP of external affairs.