EDMONTON - The chief financial officer for Alberta's health system has quit after documents showed he spent taxpayer money on lavish meals, social events and a phone for his Mercedes.

The resignation of Allaudin Merali came just weeks after he was hired by Alberta Health Services.

Three years ago, he left Ontario's health system under a similar dark cloud.

Chris Mazurkewich, the acting CEO of Alberta Health Services, would not say if Merali was fired or if he quit, adding that the severance pay is still to be worked out.

Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne is to hold a news conference Thursday to discuss the situation.

Opposition Wildrose leader Danielle Smith condemned Merali's spending and the culture she says spawned it.

She said it's not surprising given that defeated members of the legislature collect millions in severance packages.

The lobby group Friends of Medicare called it another example of the Conservative government's confused priorities.

It's not the first high-profile departure for Alberta Health Services.

In the fall of 2010, then-CEO Stephen Duckett and the agency parted ways after he rebuffed reporters at an emergency meeting by saying he was busy eating a cookie.

Alberta Health Services later revealed his severance amounted to more than $735,000.