Mr Wilkins, who also filled in as temporary chief executive of AMP when it was thrown into crisis in 2018, said the board had taken decisive action.
“We are committed to having a respectful and inclusive environment for everyone at QBE. The Board concluded that he had exercised poor judgement in this regard,” Mr Wilkins said in a statement.
“While these are challenging circumstances the Board recognises and thanks Mr Regan for his hard work and contribution to strengthening QBE. However, all employees must be held to the same standards.”
The company’s announcement did not provide further details of the communications, or its investigation.
QBE shares had slumped 4.6 per cent to $10.12 in late morning trade, after the company announced the abrupt departure of Mr Regan.
Mr Wilkins said the fundamentals of QBE’s business remained strong.
“While COVID-19 has created significant challenges, QBE is successfully navigating this period of uncertainty, and the Group’s demonstrable financial strength positions us well to capitalise on accelerating pricing momentum and emerging organic growth opportunities,” Mr Wilkins said.
QBE’s board said it would be taking further action over the coming weeks to build on its work to “develop a vibrant and inclusive culture.”
The board said it would launch a culture review, and create an additional way for staff to safely raise concerns and receive support.
“We want our people to have the avenues they need to safely speak up, with the confidence that they will be heard and that all concerns raised will be treated consistently across our workforce,” Mr Wilkins said.
Mr Regan was elevated to the CEO job in 2017 after former CEO John Neal resigned in the face of investor frustration after a challenging five years running the insurance giant. Mr Neal’s bonus was cut by $550,000 in 2017 for not disclosing a romantic relationship with his executive assistant.
More to come
Clancy Yeates is a business reporter.