Regrettably my involvement with AUKPI as chair of its Executive Committee has come to a premature end. AUKPI – both the trade association and the company that the association is based on – are having to be wound up. This was decided upon in the week of 21st September when it was reported, in the trade press and on another website, that the association’s founder and the sole member and director of the company had been committed for trial on a series of charges including failure to comply with a requirement of the Money Laundering Regulations 2007.
It was my view that this occurrence represented a fatal reputational blow to the association, regardless of whether the charges were true or not. I felt that the association, if it attempted to continue, would not only be unable to deliver the services promised to its members in exchange for their membership fees, but might cause the reputational damage to be extended to the members themselves, and potentially also to the association’s ecosystem of partner organisations.
There was also the potential for damage to the vital relationships with lobbying counterparties, without which the association loses much of its value.
I did not consider it credible that the association could distance itself from the individual concerned, and I strongly advised against any type of manoeuvre whereby the association would re-launch itself with a different company behind it, with the same name or a very similar one, and without any pause. All that would do would be to offer another stick for the sector’s enemies to beat it.
Consequently my recommendations were that the entire Executive Committee should resign straight away bar a small team charged with the operational wind-down during October, that the website be taken down as of 31st October and that a banner be put on the website to this effect straight away, and that a communication be sent to the members by the founder as to what had happened.
Having resigned effective 30th September along with the Executive Committee members who were in agreement with these recommendations, and having received assurances that the recommended actions would be carried out, I stepped down with much regret.