Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Professional Review 1--Purpose

Purpose
"Review and learn from what happened,
support good practice, and restore relationships." (p. 113)
“These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts; do not plot evil against each other, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this,” declares the Lord…Therefore love truth and peace.” Zechariah 8

The purpose of this blog is to share the initial investigation done in 2008 by Rand Guebert. So far it has been shared privately with government investigative agencies in different countries and several colleagues and consultants.
"This review [investigates] several overlapping matters that have affected the mission, member care, and church community...[and] aspires to promote transparency, accountability, good practice, and healthy relationships." (Proposal, p. 112) 
"This professional review has been organized to draw together the various events that have led to the dismissal of Drs. Kelly and Michele O’Donnell from YWAM [and other organizations/networks] and to the potential loss of millions of dollars by investors in Nordic Capital Investments (NCI) and Stichting Dutch Investments (SDI).  Many of these events are related and overlap, and this review attempts to place them in context." p.1
We are sharing this review now with the support of many colleagues in hopes that the international Church-Mission Community (CMC) and general public will get a better understanding of the widespread and ongoing reality of corruption--outside as well as inside the CMC. Corruption is far more than financial crime, since it also includes many other abuses of power and exploitation, such as  sexual misconduct, cover-ups, silencing others, and leadership/group rationalizations. We hope that this review will encourage the CMC and general public to hold their leaders accountable--and themselves--for the good governance, responsible management, and personal integrity needed to prevent corruption and bring corruption into the light. 

More specifically, we also hope there will be a far more accurate understanding of the NCI et al. fraud, including what has contributed to obscure it and cover it up, and the heavy price paid by many people confronting it, especially within the CMC (e.g., discrediting, dismissals, physical danger). There is much to learn from this protracted case of corruption and the largely unanswered calls for assistance via verifiable disclosures and independent reviews. In spite of the long-term and ongoing damage, the time is still opportune for people to reverse course and act with integrity. As stated in the concluding paragraph of the Integrated Executive Summary:
"YWAM and other groups are only being challenged now because of the integrity and perseverance of the O’Donnells and those who have stood by them in these last difficult years.  The need for accountability and restitution in varying degrees clearly lies with YWAM, Le Rucher, WEA-MC, MC-E and involved churches [Youth With A Mission, Le Rucher Ministries, World Evangelical Alliance-Mission Commission, Crossroads Church etc.].  In authoritarian settings nearly everyone is too vulnerable to stand up to the power of the leaders—staff have limited rights and limited resources on which to rely.  The time has come for the truth to be known and justice to prevail, without which there can be no proper basis for organizational health and reconciliation.  For everyone involved it is not too late to act with integrity and seek redress, both publicly and privately."
Keep in mind that Mr. Guebert conducted his 2008 initial investigation without the benefit of the 3000+ pages of documents released in 2010 by the Swedish government--focusing on the NCI fraud case. The Swedish documents fill in many of the details about how NCI operated and who was affected; provide a context for why fear, cover ups and dismissals could be so widespread in the CMC; and by and large confirm the concerns and conclusions in the initial investigation. Additional organizations have also been approached for assistance, for example to investigate how they (and their members or member organizations) have been affected, share information, and hold people accountable in light of good practice standards, but to little avail.

Mr. Guebert continues to welcome contributions to make the review as accurate as possible, especially from people who have not yet given their input and perspectives. Please feel free to share any additional information and documents via the comments and/or by email (lovingtruthpeace@gmail.org). You are also welcome to include your name below in support of the purpose of the weblog and the Professional Review:  "To review and learn from what has happened, support good practice, and restore relationships."


For an updated summary regarding NCI and related events (e.g., court cases, requests for assistance, lack of disclosures), we encourage you to read the "Summary and Summons" on the PETRA People weblog
“There is a story here that EVERYONE should know. Everyone should have the opportunity to evaluate whether the ends justify the means." Rand Guebert (16 December 2016, comment on the Shine the Light-Together website), 
Sincerely,
Michèle and Kelly O’Donnell
Moderators
---------------

We support the purpose of this weblog and Professional Review:
"Review and learn from what happened, support good practice,
and restore relationships."
Ron Williams
Dr. Bill Clark
Dr. Ralph Winestock

Tina Quick
Dr. Jonathan Quick
Tricia Johnson
Dr. Todd Johnson
Valerie Bertozzi
Patricia Shepherd
Dr. William Watson
Hollis Lewis, JD

Note:
We (Kelly and Michele O'Donnell) have authorized, as required in the Professional Review, to share this information on this weblog, initially with a limited group of people. In posting the Professional Review, we are not implying any criminality in the NCI case beyond those implicated in the verdicts of the Swedish court (2010) and any courts in the future. We do however continue to align with the many colleagues, victims, and general public who over the past 11 years have  strongly urged all those affected by the NCI fraud to share information to help fill in the missing pieces as well as for organizations affected by the fraud and their specific leaders and Boards to share information and authorize independent reviews. We also join with others in supporting Mr. Guebert’s conclusions that the discrediting and dismissals which we received must be understood in light of the NCI fraud and our commitment to consistently act with integrity.

Professional Review 2--Introduction

Introduction and Table of Contents

PROFESSIONAL REVIEW
GENERAL INTRODUCTION AND DISCLAIMER

Rand Guebert
26 September 2008

This material is strictly confidential.
It may not be reproduced in any way or shared without the explicit written permission of Dr. Kelly O’Donnell and Dr. Michèle Lewis O’Donnell.
*****

This professional review has been organized to draw together the various events that have led to the dismissal of Drs. Kelly and Michele O’Donnell from YWAM and to the potential loss of millions of dollars by investors in Nordic Capital Investments (NCI) and Stichting Dutch Investments (SDI).  Many of these events are related and overlap, and this review attempts to place them in context.

The review has been performed on a pro bono basis by Mr. Rand Guebert, a professional business consultant. Please see the review proposal from May 2008 in the appendix for further details.  As a primary objective of the review is to provide a detailed record of events, Mr. Guebert welcomes contributions in adding to the record and correcting any misunderstandings. The documentation available is now running to over three thousand pages.

The review covers four topics:  NCI, YWAM, Member Care, and Le Rucher.  For each topic there is a detailed timeline, which reflects all relevant events for which Mr. Guebert has documentation.  Each timeline was used to write a factual narrative for that topic, which is interspersed with Mr. Guebert’s analysis of events in italics.

Each narrative was then used as the basis for an executive summary of that topic, which contains Mr. Guebert’s conclusions and recommendations concerning that topic.  The four topical executive summaries were then used to write an integrated executive summary, which expresses conclusions and recommendations covering all four topics as a whole.  Also, a summary integrated timeline and list of names are included in order to help orient the reader to various events, people and organizations mentioned in the review. 

The review took Mr. Guebert approximately 500 hours to compile.  Mr. Guebert is available to discuss, and if appropriate, to update any aspect of the review.

Mr. Rand Guebert
Gex, France

---------------------------------------------- 
 PROFESSIONAL REVIEW
TABLE OF CONTENTS

                                                                        
Section One—Overview                                                     Pages
1. General Introduction and Disclaimer                                        1
2. Table of Contents                                                                        2
3. Integrated Executive Summary                                                  3-5                                              
4. Time Line                                                                                      6
5. List of Names                                                                               7-8
  
Section Two—Executive Summaries
1. NCI                                                                                                  9-12
2. YWAM                                                                                           13-17
3. Member Care                                                                                18-23
4. Le Rucher                                                                                      24-26

 Section Three—Narrative and Analysis                                 
1. NCI                                                                                                 27-46
2. YWAM                                                                                            47-71
3. Member Care                                                                                 72-92
4. Le Rucher                                                                                      93-111

 Appendix
1. Professional Review Proposal, May 2008                                112-113

Professional Review 3--Integrated Summary

Inegrated Summary

PROFESSIONAL REVIEW
INTEGRATED EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Rand Guebert

This material is strictly confidential.
It may not be reproduced in any way or shared without the explicit written permission of Dr. Kelly O’Donnell and Dr. Michèle Lewis O’Donnell.
*****

What are the general observations, conclusions and recommendations that can be drawn from the four accompanying executive summaries?

The sad and serious events described in this professional review have their genesis in poor or inadequate corporate governance, which has led to:

·       Authoritarian and dysfunctional management practices
·       Disregard for truth and justice
·       Ineffective employee/staff safeguards
·       Destructive conflicts of interest
·       Covert financial management practices
·       And in the end even suspected criminality

YWAM has experienced all of these consequences, while other organizations such as the WEA-MC, EEMA, Le Rucher and various churches have been affected to varying degrees.  These organizations should not let their good works, built over many years, be undermined by the unethical actions of leaders.  When an organization is confronted with unethical behavior, does it have the capacity to care for itself, or do staff abdicate corporate responsibility to a few unaccountable leaders?  One question arises over and over in this review--where is the ethical and accountable corporate governance?

1. Effective corporate governance does not tolerate authoritarian and dysfunctional management practices.  The dysfunctional management at Le Rucher was allowed to continue first by YWAM leaders and then by the Le Rucher Board.  This facilitated the supposedly unethical acquisition of Le Rucher from YWAM, mistreatment of staff and sale of fraudulent investments.  The good work of Le Rucher is besmirched by the lack of integrity of Christian leaders.  Churches and other organizations that have known about staff mistreatment and fraud have tacitly supported them by their silence or disinterest.  It seems that YWAM leaders emphasized “reconciliation” over the needs of truth and justice.  Authoritarian leadership may reduce red tape and foster initiative, but it can also be utilized by unscrupulous leaders to exploit others and ultimately bring shame on the Body of Christ.

2. Effective corporate governance ensures that when challenges and conflicts arise in an organization there must be truth and justice as well as mercy and reconciliation.  Do leaders value and practice justice and integrity? That must certainly be a measure of the  health of both the leader and the organization. The failure to investigate the facts of an organizational dispute is a recipe for misjudgment and an indication of dysfunction.  Member Care-Europe did not investigate the management issues at Le Rucher, even when they had become aware of serious consequences for former staff as well as the MC-E group itself. The Board of Le Rucher did not adequately investigate the management issues either. The elders of Crossroads Church attempted to investigate this dispute but did not take appropriate action primarily because of a conflict of interest.  WEA-MC leaders needed to better manage the relational impasses that occurred before, during and after RSA 06.  YWAM leaders did not investigate the fraud-related issues brought to their attention by the O’Donnells and many others—instead they asked them to reconcile with someone who was not only abusive but who had sold them fraudulent investments.  YWAM leaders emphasized “reconciliation” over the needs of truth and justice.  Seeking justice often takes blood, sweat and tears—and it seems apparent that the Christian community is not always willing to prioritize this—superficial forgiving, forgetting and “moving on” is so much easier and less expensive.  Where is the integrity of the different Christian groups and organizations in all of these overlapping matters?

3. Effective corporate governance will foster effective employee/staff safeguards.  Both at Le Rucher and in YWAM staff had limited safeguards such as those accorded to those in the same position in secular organizations.  Both organizations had some policies and procedures, but these were ineffective—they were no protection against abusive management.  When the O’Donnells, and later others, attempted to report fraud to YWAM, they were stonewalled by executive leaders and later rebuffed by YWAM-Garden Valley.  When they and others attempted to appeal to executive leaders against Kelly’s dismissal, a totally ad hoc and biased procedure was set up.  Because YWAM staff work as volunteers (similar to independent contractors) they are in a more vulnerable place than those who are legally classified as employees.  YWAM leaders are able to assert authority over people with limited responsibility or accountability for their actions.  The same applied at Le Rucher.  What happened to the O’Donnells and Le Rucher staff is a good example of the maxim that processes and procedures are not a substitute for good, ethical management.

4. Effective corporate governance recognizes that certain conflicts of interest can be very destructive and lead to the compromising of personal integrity.  For example, it was not appropriate for the president of the EEMA to be on the Coordinating Committee of Member Care-Europe at the same time.  YWAM executive leaders should not have considered that Kelly’s line leader was an appropriate person to receive reports of fraud.  At Crossroads Church the elders should never have allowed one of its nine members to be responsible for reporting on the management dispute at Le Rucher when this person was also a Board member of Le Rucher and known to have a management bias.  WEA-MC leaders had commitments to different groups which at times resulted in personal relationships being inappropritely impacted by political expediency.  It takes integrity to guard against conflicts of interest or at least to publicly acknowledge them and their possible consequences.

5. Effective corporate governance recognizes that money is handled with responsibility and accountability.  Money that is acquired by deceptive actions brings shame on the Body of Christ.  Christians are encouraged to teach the importance of wise and prudent financial management—God loves a cheerful giver not a frightened or guilty or naïve supplicant.  When money is managed wisely, there is far less scope for the perpetration of frauds such as NCI/SDI, or for the receipt of money from dubious sources, or the self-aggrandizement of Christian leaders.  When fundraising prowess becomes a sign of a leader’s spirituality the priorities of the Christian community are brought into question—it is the task of the leaders to promote good stewardship of Christian resources.

6. Effective corporate governance promotes good practice and personal integrity, without which there is often a steady descent into dysfunction with possibly even serious legal consequences.  This is evidenced in this case by the inappropriate dismissal of the O’Donnells and the widespread and dramatic impact of the NCI/SDI fraud.  The entire executive leadership of YWAM is not only complicit in the inappropriate dismissal, but also has a serious responsibility stemming from its awareness of the NCI fraud.  How far down in the organization this complicity and awareness are known and accepted is not clear.  But it would appear that the YWAM leadership, as hard as it may be for many to recognize, seems to have headed in directions with serious legal consequences.  Is this possible?  Can it be stopped?  When?  By whom?
*****

YWAM and other groups are only being challenged now because of the integrity and perseverance of the O’Donnells and those who have stood by them in these last difficult years.  The need for accountability and restitution in varying degrees clearly lies with YWAM, Le Rucher, WEA-MC, MC-E and involved churches.  In authoritarian settings nearly everyone is too vulnerable to stand up to the power of the leaders—staff have limited rights and limited resources on which to rely.  The time has come for the truth to be known and justice to prevail, without which there can be no proper basis for organizational health and reconciliation.  For everyone involved it is not too late to act with integrity and seek redress, both publicly and privately.