CannTrust interim CEO vows to 'exorcise the demons' following illicit pot scandal
The interim chief executive of CannTrust Holdings Inc. said he is “comfortable” that the beleaguered cannabis producer will return back to full compliance with Health Canada after an investigation determined the company was found to grow thousands of kilograms of pot in unlicensed rooms.
“We have a lot going for us. Unfortunately, we found ourselves in a situation that was a result of what I would like to believe was a few [people, and] will remain until we conclude the investigation to be able to quantify that,” said Robert Marcovitch, the interim chief executive officer of CannTrust, in an interview with BNN Bloomberg that will be broadcast on Wednesday.
“Certainly, we are very comfortable that we can separate ourselves from that which plagued us and brought us to where we are and [will] move forward with full compliance with Health Canada and give them the comfort that we are absolutely rehabilitated.”
Marcovitch’s comments come less than a week after he was appointed as interim CEO of CannTrust. The company’s board terminated then-CEO Peter Aceto “with cause” and “demanded” the resignation of Eric Paul, the company’s chairman and co-founder.
The executive departures were announced less than one month after the Vaughan, Ont.-based firm disclosed it was non-compliant with Health Canada regulations after an earlier inspection uncovered thousands of kilograms of cannabis grown in unlicensed rooms at its Pelham, Ont. facility.
Marcovitch said the company had enough information to fire Aceto with cause, stating those terms included a “combination of matters that really we’ll rely on in future disclosures.” Marcovitch added that he held a similar conversation with Paul, but that the company was prepared to go to a shareholder vote on whether to remove the former chairman from his post.
“We were certainly very cautious,” he said. “One never wanted to let someone go with cause so we had to be comfortable with our decision. We made the decision. I spoke to Mr. Aceto directly and the conversation was polite, short and we moved on.”
After CannTrust disclosed it ran afoul of regulators, the company’s board created a special committee, led by Marcovitch, which was tasked with investigating the scandal amid a growing pile of evidence that showed Aceto and Paul were made aware of the illegal activity at one of CannTrust's facilities last year.
Marcovitch, who previously ran sporting and outdoor equipment companies K2 Sports and The Coleman Outdoor Company, joined CannTrust’s board in January 2017.
He wasn’t able to provide a specific answer when asked how the company was discovered to grow cannabis in unlicensed rooms as the investigation remains ongoing, but stated the company is working “transparently” with Health Canada and the Ontario Securities Commission to understand the breadth of the probe.
“We have not sat on our hands and we want to know the facts,” Marcovitch said. “As we continue to gather them, as we continue to have a level of confidence, we will act. We’ve been very busy dealing with the internal parts and pieces.”