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Irish domain registry suspends CEO
Wednesday, October 02 2002
by Matthew Clark

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Tensions between the board of Ireland's .ie domain registry and its chief executive came to a head on Wednesday, culminating in the suspension of CEO Mike Fagan.

Spokespeople at the IE Domain Registry, the company that controls Ireland's .ie domain, were unwilling to comment. Fagan claimed he was suspended with pay by the organisation's chairman, Professor J.O. Scanlan of University College Dublin. Scanlan, who told ElectricNews.Net on Tuesday that Fagan was still in place as CEO, was not available to comment on Wednesday.

According to sources, auditors from KPMG, accompanied by the Gardai, were called to IEDR's offices in Dun Laoghaire on Wednesday seeking the financial records of the company, which operates as a not-for-profit entity. The company's current auditor is BCW Registered Auditors. It is believed that the KPMG auditors were seeking to do their own review of the company's performance.

Results for the IEDR's first 18 months in operation, reported in May, showed EUR1.94 million in revenues from registrations. The company said that surplus revenues for the 18-month period came to around EUR90,000, after EUR1.85 million was deducted for certain exceptional fees and relocation costs. The company described its surplus revenue, which came to around EUR70,000 after taxes, as "satisfactory."

At the time those results were released, Scanlan expressed gratitude to Fagan for his work thus far with the business and expressed confidence in him as CEO.

Fagan dismissed the entire affair on Wednesday as "politically motivated," claiming that the board has sought to remove him over disputes that surround what Fagan described as the "over-involvement" in the IEDR of former Telecom Eireann officials and UCD employees.

The now suspended chief executive officer has alleged that the company's board was looking to remunerate its new company secretary, former Telecom Eireann company secretary Jimmy Joyce, to the tune of several thousand euro a year. Fagan alleges that paying any board member or company officers for work with the IEDR would violate the non-profit's Memorandum & Articles of Association.

The IEDR spun out of UCD in July 2000, but that process is on-going. Like domain registries in other countries, the IEDR faces regular criticism from hosting companies and other industry players who say its workings are non-transparent; the Registry effectively holds a monopoly on the distribution of .ie addresses.

Scanlan has rejected these criticisms in the past and has also rebuked claims that UCD is "shadow director" of the company. He has also said that the company never acted in a way that is contrary to what it considers to be in the best interests of the on-line Irish business community.

Many of the Registry's board members continue to have strong ties to UCD, and others are former executives of Telecom Eireann. Professor Scanlan himself was the chairman and a board member of Telecom Eireann; IEDR board member Ronald Bolger was the chairman of Telecom Eireann between 1992 and 1999 and he also serves on the governing authority of UCD and was a KPMG Ireland partner. Patrick Frain, Mark Keane and former secretary John Coman also all have strong UCD ties, while the new IEDR company secretary held a similar role at Telecom Eireann.

Fagan told ElectricNews.Net earlier this week that the only way he would leave the IEDR was "in a wooden box or with cheque for EUR1 million."

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