In this 23rd post in a series on Barter, I break the power structures within IRTA down into visual form. I dive into the murky waters of politics; I show who the people are who are making the decisions and where ultimate responsibility for the mess lies. The buck stops right at the top with the President. I also offer suggestions for those currently in the poo for how to extricate themselves from the mess they find themselves in.
IRTA is an Association.
Its members are Barter/Trade Exchanges that want to be seen to associated with IRTA. Their prime reason for joining is to access the Universal Currency system (that allows reciprocal trade between the various members) however some want to be seen to be reputable companies in the barter marketplace, thus their interest in membership, and even better is the status of an IRTA Board appointment.
The current Global Board of IRTA is listed on their website here.I believe it is up to date as of today, Wednesday August 20th, 2014
There are office-holders:
- A President (Annette Riggs) elected by the Board,
- A Vice-President (Scott Whitmer),
- An Executive Director (Ron Whitney) a paid position,
- A Secretary (Scot Mathewson) and
- A Treasurer (Mary Ellen Rosinski)
The remaining Board Members have no office other than secondment or sub-committee roles.
Two sub-committees relate to the subjects of my blogging:
- The Software sub-committee
- The UC (Universal Currency) Committee
I do not believe that the IRTA website is up to date with current sub-committee members (it’s probably a deliberate ommission BTW) so I will not mention names so as not to incriminate people who might have moved on. I do however believe that the Bartercard Board Member (Paul Bolte) will be on one or both of these Committees.
The Board is divided but most likely not in half. There will likely be three categories of Board Members that I have classified by the traffic light coloured graphic below.
RED (supportive of the Bartercard deal), ORANGE (swinging voters) and GREEN (opponents):
The Board Makeup
Two Critical Issues
Aside from organising the upcoming conference in Cancun, and tackling bigger issues on behalf of the industry, there are two hot issues that the Board are currently having to deal with . . . 1) the shonky deal with Bartercard over their exclusive endorsement of Bartercard’s software for the next 15 years and 2) the corruption and mismanagement of Universal Currency. There are and will be secondary issues to address flowing from these two ‘problems’ such as dealing with Member rage, political survival, matters raised at the AGM and their own future in the industry.
1. The Bartercard Deal
My take on the Bartercard deal is that the entire Board has been kept in the dark; that only selected individuals knew about it and that those that knew about it only knew partial information. Expect the ones in the GREEN camp then to spin off and bail as the pressure comes on when more information comes to light. As I’ve said previously if they bail on the basis of ethics and corruption as their reason for departure, they will be able to hold their head high. The phrase ‘sinking ship’ comes to mind, as does, ‘mud sticks’. Their risk is that if they stay and the ship goes down (i.e. that the IRTA Board is found to have failed in its legal and moral duties) in time they will be forever seen to be opportunists and part of the rot.
If however the IRTA Board weathers the storm of expose after expose, the upcoming conference and AGM, and member rage, then they will have lost the opportunity to be seen as industry leaders, the coveted badge of “being on the Global Board of Directors of IRTA” which is of course if we’re honest about it is the main reason that many are there. Time will tell who bails and for what reason and how this current Board will be viewed in a few years.
Personally I would lean toward the first option about 9:1 – the Board will go down in history as the Board that lost the plot and got sprung. I doubt that many will bail, for people who get themselves into this sort of sticky mess (through greed, apathy, self-interest or whatever) hardly ever have the wherewithall to extricate themselves from it. Again the phrase that includes leopards and their spots come to mind. It takes a big man (or woman) to say, “Oops I made a mistake!” or “I was conned!”
2. The Universal Currency Fraud
My take on the Universal Currency fraud is that the entire Board (and including the President) will not even know what the heck this is all about, except perhaps for certain things that affected them. For example, I’m sure that the Bartercard representative Paul Bolte knows that Universal Currency Members bailed his company out after all the public announcement told us that UC was the underwriter! And there’s heaps more to share about this dodgy deal believe me! It is inconceivable to me that the guy in the midst of the two deals didn’t either stitch the deal together himself personally or wasn’t in the thick of it. Whether or not he engineered, or was even aware of one of their accounts being hidden* from the Members I don’t know but it’s too suspicious an oversight for me. Fraud that totally imbalances the UC system, just at the time of their IPO? Nope – in order for someone to risk jailtime to do that – money changed hands somewhere and he would have known full well what was going on! I can believe that most Board Members have never gone into UC and analysed the data, or the health of the currency. Why would they if it was working for them? Even the President didn’t even know what information was available to the UCMembers and needed help to find the mission critical data, so why would any lowly Board Member bother to do that?
The Executive Director
Ron is the man in the hot-seat. He does the work, runs between the various hot spots putting out fires and trying to make things happen. His is an unenviable position but he’s no fool and will have worked out how to play the various factions and interests to get the secret deal done, and I’m sure looked after his own interests in the process – he’s like that.
Ron does the Universal Currency stuff. Sure Patty does trades and so on but Ron does the work when it comes to IRTA/UC deals. To my way of thinking the spotlight should be firmly on Ron as the operator of the Universal Currency. IRTA is the owner and Administrator of UC (which is a total conflict of interest BTW that members should consider carefully perhaps at another time). That makes him the security guard and the judge at the same time – not a good situation for an Association to have! I believe that all corruption will be traced back to him, personally and hence my recent recommendation that he should be suspended forthwith and all Association records frozen and secured for investigation.
I worked with Ron extensively when researching Daniel Evans and The Ormita fraud. He was a great help, and as I have said before was professional, if a little defensive. If there’s one thing I know about Ron though, he NEVER does anything without the OK from the President, and sometimes (if it’s a more important issue) the IRTA Board. Many times it is the President who initiates things. They have a very good working relationship from what I’ve seen.
Unfortunately this working relationship has obviously been too successful for it has solidified power from a compliant section within the Board so that now the Excutive ‘run’ the Board instead of reporting TO the Board. This is a two-way thing, not entirely a power-gone-to-the-head thing on the part of the Executive, for the Board lacks vision, is divided, and is weak and ineffective. They are basically unable to take a stand against the power-base for fear of getting railroaded like others did, and unwilling to take a stand on principle again for fear of losing what little power they think they have.
I saw this first-hand when I worked with IRTA during my investigation into Ormita but it wasn’t an issue for me personally so I didn’t worry about it. I just wrote it off to the usual politics that surround any organisation where there are different interest groups and agendas. Nobody said or did anything out of turn against me (except Ron tryin gto short-change me, which I sorted out very quickly), it was more just me observing how things actually ran behind the scenes that alerted me to the troubles in there.
What appears to have happened within IRTA however with the secret Bartercard deal is that (for whatever reason, but probably a potential payday) the Executive have concealed information from the Board, or perhaps some of the Board and have tried to get the Bartercard deal through under the Board’s noses. With a total lockdown on information on the secret deal, Board Members cannot talk to the press or even to their Members. Personally, I think that a deal was done way back in January in principle with a select few – Paul Bolte, Trevor Dietz, Ron Whitney, Annette Riggs and maybe another one or two who may have been in on it. I think the deal was signed off by those few only. Somehow they used the name of the Global Board of IRTA. They would have tried to get it past the full Board as a fait accomplis, perhaps buying the votes with the newfound riches from the IPO, or other tricky moves. Time will tell, as the truth leaks out.
When the sh*t hit the fan when the Bartercard Prospectus came out and I exposed the shonky deal, I think they panicked, regrouped and spun a yarn to the ones in the dark. Annette appears to have patched together the media release and slipped it out to the industry to fess-up. Incredibly, in an act again that would humble Mickey Mouse for stupidity, it’s now been taken offline and no one from IRTA will talk!
Ultimately, the buck stops with the President, Annette Riggs. Regardless of what Ron has been up to cooking the books or doing deals, it is Annette that organised it, knows about it, agreed to it or is foolish enough to be conned over it.
I simply can’t call this one. I don’t know Annette well enough to know how thick she is in on the whole thing and I don’t have a tap on the line between Ron and her. At the end of the day however, it doesn’t matter because either she engineered it all – the Bartercard thing, or she was in on it, or she let it slip through on her watch. I’d hazard a guess that the truth is at the former [‘guilty’] end of the scale but she and Ron alone know the truth.
Her position is a simple one . . . she can continue to put her head in the sand, obfuscate, defend and protect whatever she is hiding . . . or she can fess up to her failings and sort the matter out. If she takes a stand on principle she has only really one chance to come clean and get it right. If she stays on and tries to bluff it out with skeletons in the closet and then the wheels come off for her further down the track then it’ would be pretty terminal – she will be shown to have been at the top, covered it all up and who knows what will then happen?
Breaking up the powerbase
People from across the industry have time and again tut-tutted to me at the trouble at IRTA. In the past some have attacked and caused some damage but nothing has really changed. This is because the powerbase has not been attacked with any real conviction. Those who are there with power are smarter, more slippery and more committed than those on the outside.
Some have tried to stand up to the power-hungry and paid the price – they’ve got sidelined (for rocking the boat of course). Others have complied or got with the programme, some willingly, others begrudgungly. There is widespread belief that nothing can really be done about it, and those that are wanting change are talking about doing something like asking questions at the AGM, or setting up another organisation to do what IRTA really should be doing. Both options are totally futile in the face of an entrenched powerbase.
I can tell you instantly who will win any war on the planet by talking to them for only a few minutes, and it’s almost always the ones who want to win the war the most.Taking on people who live and work by the power of deception is perfectly simple – you simply reveal the facts – but you must then push on through with total conviction when they are scurrying for cover and inventing stuff. Playing games and dealing with the devil is the stuff of Alice in Wonderland. Strong leadership, clear vision, agreed standards/ethics and a commitment to change could break up the existing powerbase. Nothing else will!
Right now, yesterday and today you will have key people within the powerbase in total panic mode trying to work out how to do damage control over the clear fraud within the UC accounts. Watch as the many divisions will come to the surface and people start turning on each other as the heat goes on. Corruption is like that – collaborators always turn on each other to save their own hides when caught. They will be desperate to explain and present something out there that explains away the fraud and particularly their own role (or not) in it.
Understand that these guys are scared – scared of the truth getting out there – about the secret Bartercard deal and about what’s under the hood at UC. Relentless exposing of their corruption and illegal activities will turn the entire IRTA powerbase upside down so that the power will eventually return to the people who (I believe) should have it – the IRTA Members. First comes revelation; then with the facts people can decide how to deal with the many ills within the leadership. I counsel all the people who are angry at the Executive as a result of my revelations, “Don’t worry! Don’t panic! Just wait . . . you’ll see . . . there’s a lot more to come and things will be very different when the light stays on”.
I firmly believe that power obtained in the dark can only have its power in the dark. Just like the last cockroaches to flee when the light comes on will be the ones that get whacked, so too will the last remaining manipulators and deceivers get caught holding the baby at IRTA. There is fraud in there. There is self-interest in there. There is deception all over the place and as long as I speak the facts; never ‘spin’ a story nor have my own hidden agenda the truth WILL come out and the Members can do what they wish with my revelations.
The IRTA Members have been asleep at the wheel. Whether through apathy, disinterest, fear, ignorance or whatever it doesn’t matter . . . but good people have let manipulators trick and bully their way in to railroad IRTA from its orginal mandate for political and financial benefit of the elite few. Honesty and integrity lack with the current bunch and those who are straight in there are either too spineless, clueless or frightened to act for fear of losing what they covet.
I predict that the people with the power in there at the moment will play dirty and fight for their [political] lives. From my perspective, every rock they throw, every stunt that they pull, every lie or deception that they spout, every day that goes by with no or meaningless answers to direct, important and serious questions will be simply more ammunition for me to demonstrate the horrendous corruption that exists within the halls of power at IRTA.
For the record I do NOT say that IRTA has achieved nothing on the current bunches watch . . . I DO say however that it is corrupt at the top with a divided and ineffective Board led by an Executive that has got them by the short-and-curlies.
* As I’ve said before I can’t yet prove that there is a Bartercard account being hidden, but I’m pretty sure there is.
In my next post I begin to wrap up this Barter Series with an analysis of the real power-games that occur in the industry, and return to the thesis I set out in my first post, that the future will be a very different one where the conflicts over power within IRTA, or between Barter/Trade Exchanges will pale into insignificance as the currency behind each of the various players comes into focus. Key players in the industry should take careful note. Thought leaders will likely concur but it is sure to go over the heads of people who live in the past.
The Barter Series
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