The managing director of Australian dairy co-operative Murray Goulburn is to quit after over a decade in the role.

Stephen O’Rourke will leave the business next July after 12 years as MD and 23 years as an employee.

O’Rourke leaves at a troubling time for Murray Goulburn. Last week, it emerged that O’Rourke’s wife received over A$300,000 (US$303,000) for working with him while he was MD. It was also announced that local police would investigate allegations of improper payments made by a former Murray Goulburn employee for contracts in the Middle East.

Chairman Grant Davies insisted O’Rourke had been discussing plans to retire over the last few months.

“Stephen had been discussing retirement plans with us over the past few months and he is insistent that his plans for retirement were now clear and should be made known to Murray Goulburn co-operative shareholders and other stakeholders as soon as possible,” Davies said.

“Therefore the board reluctantly accepted Stephen’s resolve and agreed to announce Stephen’s retirement set for 5 July 2011.”