Independent barrister advises institution to carefully consider findings before taking action
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has received a 400-page report detailing the outcome of the external review into allegations that it tried to suppress a damning internal financial report.
Alison Levitt QC has confirmed that she delivered her report to the chair of the steering committee of the RICS governing council.
Levitt has advised the steering committee that the members of governing council should take time to consider her report before deciding what action to take.
Levitt said: “I would like to express my personal thanks to all those who have contributed to the important work of the independent review, including the many members of RICS who responded to my call for evidence: I was struck by the passion about RICS expressed by all those to whom I spoke.
“RICS’ governing council will now need an opportunity carefully to consider my report and recommendations before making any decision about next steps.”
In a statement a RICS spokesperson confirmed that the report had been received.
She said: “The governing council of RICS is now in receipt of the independent review delivered by Alison Levitt QC and is in the process of carefully considering its findings and recommendations. We will issue a formal response once this process has concluded.”
She did not clarify when or if the report would be made public.
The RICS has been under intense scrutiny since late last year when it emerged that four directors had been ousted in 2019 for raising the alarm after learning of the existence of a 2018 financial report by accountant BDO. The report had not been shared beyond the audit committee.
The 10-page report gave the organisation the lowest possible “no assurance” rating for its treasury controls and warned that it was at risk of “unidentified fraud, misappropriation of funds and misreporting of financial performance”.
Following weeks of mounting pressure from members, including four former presidents, the RICS ordered the review into its handling of the report in January and appointed Peter Oldham QC to lead it.
But Oldham stepped down in April for “professional reasons” according to the RICS.
He was replaced by Levitt and the conclusions of the review were pushed back from an original date in early April.
The RICS faced further fire from members after it emerged that a parallel review into the future purpose of the organisation, also ordered in January, would be led by its president Kathleen Fontana and chief executive Sean Tompkins.
Initial findings from this review, published in May, found that satisfaction with the organisation had fallen to an all-time low.
It found members’ trust in the RICS had plummeted by nearly a third from 81% last year to 58% in 2021, while the number of respondents who said they are satisfied with their membership fell from 63% last year to just 43% this year.