Monday, September 28, 2015

AFICS/NY President and Governing Board, letter of 23 September 2015: No shame!

28 September 2015

To: Ms. Linda Saputelli,  AFICS/NY President
Copy: AFICS/NY Governing Board

Dear Ms. Saputelli,

Subject: Request for an extraordinary meeting of the AFICS/NY Governing Board

We cannot fail to respond to your letter of 23 September 2015, which we consider an affront to all members of AFICS, who look to the Board for transparent, legitimate and honest representation

Concerning the request dated 12 June 2015 of 82 AFICS members, under the By-Laws, for a meeting on pension matters, we find it disturbing that following more than three months of correspondence containing a series of excuses, you now resort to a perverse interpretation of the AFICS By-Laws to justify non-compliance with its provisions. Since the Board includes several members with legal training and experience, it is indeed bizarre that the plain meaning of the statutes’ language has been so blatantly misused and contorted to satisfy yet a new excuse for not holding the requested General Meeting.  But it doesn’t require advanced legal training to understand that nothing in the By-Laws requires “individually signed requests.” By adopting this tactic you treat your dues-paying members with complete disrespect.

You go further in this regard by shamelessly questioning the integrity and responsibility of those 82 members who signed the request for a General Meeting (not for a meeting of the “AFICS/NY Governing Board” as the subject of your letter indicates).  You have repeated on several occasions the spurious claim that some of those on the list “. . . later indicated to AFICS/NY officers that they were not aware of having endorsed such a request.” We must assume this is another falsehood on your part since you have never indicated who those people were who wanted to withdraw their names, nor have they ever contacted us to say that they were misinformed about the purpose of the petition which they signed calling for a meeting. Moreover, the 82 signers were copied on the original request and on subsequent communications and the list of names was publicly shared on social media. Therefore, anyone could have withdrawn his or her name at any time and while in fact we removed the names of two persons from the list on 17 July 2015 at their request, not a single signer has stated to us that he or she was “not aware of having endorsed such a request.”

It is curious that you raise the issue of a draft resolution that was never adopted, at an AFICS meeting that was never held, and that was not sent to the Pension Board by any of us to whom you address your letter. Perhaps, you are confused.

For our part, we would certainly have informed you of our intention to place a resolution before the participants of an AFICS meeting had you ever provided the opportunity to contribute to a formal agenda – as you promised on 17 June 2015 when we met with you and other Governing Board members -- for the requested meeting.

We are gratified to finally receive confirmation, which should have been provided to all AFICS members immediately on your return from the Pension Board meeting, of the “renewed assurances” given at the meeting by Under-Secretary-General for Management Takasu, the Chief Executive Officer of the Fund Secretariat and the Representative of the Secretary-General for Investments, as to the continued “bifurcated structure and division of responsibilities in the Fund and its conservative investment policies”.

We are further gratified to learn, that “it thus appeared that the proposed revised MoU [has] been put on hold, perhaps permanently”, no thanks to your efforts. 

These two developments were indeed the objects of our efforts all along, including the petition to the Secretary-General signed by more than 3000 Fund participants and beneficiaries, which you may recall, you advised AFICS members not to sign and which you opposed at every opportunity.

Regretfully, we must again stress that these positive developments occurred not because of but in spite of your efforts, given the many indications before, during and after the Pension Board meeting of your continued personal support of the MOU and the CEO, defying all logic given that the UN Administration itself decided to put the MOU on hold after perceiving well reasoned opposition by staff and retirees alike.

While you claim that “AFICS/NY members were being kept informed all along about outcomes in the Pension Board and other pension-related matters by postings on the AFICS/NY website”, the fact that you consider these actions as sufficient, given that the members have never been consulted (the purpose of the meeting we requested) demonstrates astonishing disregard of the minimal accountability and responsibility owed to AFICS constituents.

Turning again to the issue of the AFICS By-Laws and to the question contained in Ms. Rickard-Martin’s letter of 17 September 2015 to which you refer, concerning required elections under the By-Laws, you have not addressed this issue in your letter.

The AFICS By-Laws, as you should be aware, require that “The Governing Board shall be convened by the retiring President as soon as possible after the annual meeting of the Assembly. It shall at its first meeting elect from its membership a President, a First Vice-President, a Second Vice-President, a Secretary, a Treasurer, a Deputy Secretary and a Deputy Treasurer.” Here again, almost four months after the annual meeting was held on 4 June 2015, you have failed to comply with the By-Laws. This would certainly be an agenda item were a meeting ever to be held in accordance with our request.

As far as the matter being closed, as you state, we view ourselves to be on firm footing in considering your tenure as President, and consequently this and any further correspondence from you, as lacking legitimacy. We call upon you to vacate without further delay the post of President that you currently illegally occupy so that a properly elected President and other officers, hopefully more accountable and responsible towards the AFICS membership, may take up their positions under the By-Laws.

We reiterate our request, in the interest of fairness and transparency to all AFICS members, that this letter and our previous letters on the matter be posted on the AFICS website with your various responses.


Curling Smith, Lowell Flanders, Loraine Rickard-Martin

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