Saturday, May 6, 2017
A must-read letter
The following letter from Finance Committee member N. Martin Jamison to WBAI LSB Treasurer R. Paul Martin is an important read.
As you are aware, at last night's Finance Committee meeting it was revealed by the general station manager, Mr. Berthold Reimers, that World Financial Group, Incorporated an affiliate of Aegon N.V., a multinational life insurance, pensions and asset management company headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands with revenues in the tens of billions has been an on air premium provider of financial services to our listenership and that the Mr. Reimer's son, Yoan Reimers, apparently works for World Financial Group, Incorporated. When Mr. Reimers was further questioned about the relationship and the nature of the WBAI’s agreement with World Financial Group, Inc. the general manger's response was essentially that his son was in Florida (!?) Putting aside for a moment the issues of how this group was vetted and by whom, the appropriateness of them being allowed to ultimately market a multi level marketing product to our listenership and whether or not the Financial Institution Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has approved the relationship, approved the apparent rebates being offered and approved the script or content for the on air discussions it is apparent that the general station manager was either unaware of the obvious conflict of interest and possible breach of his fiduciary duties to Pacifica and WBAI or he did not care............this is most troubling and has several possible legal implications for all involved!
It was further revealed that the general manager had apparently hired and paid a consulting firm, Yellow Magnet of New York, a $10,000 retainer for social media, online fundraising and other marketing related consulting services. Per usual the station manager could not (and/or would not produce the contract) and could not sufficiently described the total compensation that was agreed to. This raises a number of questions including but not limited to was there an open bidding process for the services, who vetted this group, who drafted and reviewed the contract that was used, does any member of WBAI's staff or management benefit from this relationship directly or indirectly and where did $10,000 come from, what was not paid because the consultants were paid and does the general manger have the authority to hire outside parties and pay them whatever he thinks appropriate for services that seemingly have not been purchased previously without review by the finance committee, Pacifica or the Local Station Board?
It has been clear to me that a conflict of interest policy is either wholly lacking or has not been adhered to. My experience as a finance committee member has led me to conclude that the general manager has consistently refused to provide financial information in a standardized format as requested by a passed motion of the finance committee for a couple of years now and up until now I have wanted to chalk up most of his reluctance to provide the most basic financial information in a clear, concise and consistent manner to either his lack of financial training and/or the fact that we have been operating in an ongoing crisis mode but these two recent events coupled with the apparent lack of even the minimum adherence to reasonable policies and procedures for dealing with vendors, providing transparency and accountability make me question my initial assessment.
R. Paul, originally my intent in writing this was to resign my position on the finance committee as the current situation is completely and totally unacceptable to me but I realized that quitting would not change the situation for the betterment of WBAI and it would make me sad about the situation so instead of resigning I am respectfully requesting that the you notify in writing the Local Station Board and the Executive Director of Pacifica on or before Friday May 12th of these developments and that you provide evidence of such notification to the finance committee members. I believe that these recent developments have risen to the level that the immediate direct involvement of the Local Station Board and/or the Pacific Foundation's executive director is required otherwise I feel my only recourse is to notify and seek outside regulatory oversight of the situation as a possible means to remedy or rectify what is seemingly taking place at WBAI. I base my position upon my belief that we have been entrusted with the hard earned money from our listeners and by all accounts we do not adequately account for it and now we apparently engaged in obvious conflicts of interest with the possibility of some within WBAI profiting directly or indirectly at our listeners' expense; a completely and totally unacceptable situation!
N. Martin Jameson
Finance Committee Member