Four directors were fired after trying to raise alarm over report into body’s treasury management processes
Four former presidents of RICS have written to the body’s current leadership calling for an independent inquiry after a group of directors were dismissed for trying to raise the alarm about a critical financial report.
The former presidents, which include Christopher Jonas and Amanda Clack, wrote to current president Kathleen Fontana last week demanding answers as to why the “highly credible individuals” were ousted, according to the Sunday Times.
Directors Amarjit Atkar, Simon Hardwick, Bruce McAra and Steve Williams were fired in November 2019 by then president Chris Brooke, who is now the chairman of the RICS governing council, after they raised concerns that a report into the body’s treasury management processes appeared to have been internally suppressed.
The report, by accountant BDO, warned that the body was at risk of “unidentified fraud, misappropriation of funds and misreporting of financial performance”.
When the four directors tried to alert Brooke about the handling of the report, Brooke accused them of “passive-aggressive behaviour”, terminated their contracts and reminded them of confidentiality clauses to discourage them from speaking out.
RICS published a statement on the matter last month claiming that the governing council had been “kept informed” at all times before the dismissal of the directors, later adding that “operational internal audit matter” in question had “already received appropriate scrutiny over a year ago”.
But 10 former members of the governing council have also written to the body calling the statement “disingenuous” as the council had never been allowed to see the report. The former members said they had read the statement “with some surprise”.
The statement said: “The RICS’s 2020-21 elected governing council is confident in the integrity of the work undertaken by its audit committee between 2018 and 2020. It has agreed that an external review of past matters is not necessary.”
The heads of the 14 biggest property agencies, including CBRE and Cushman & Wakefield, have also written to RICS seeking clarity on the matter.