Self Dealing and Corruption at ICANN

Just about a week after penning essays suggesting that “Geeks Must Be In Charge of the Internet,”* former ICANN chairman Fadi Chehadé has been revealed to be the CEO of the sketchy hedge fund that was trying to take over the .org registry.

There have long been allegations that the transfer of the registry to a for-profit entity, particularly when juxtaposed with the removal of price caps by ICANN just before the attempt began.

There needs to be a dive into corruption within ICANN, because what is going on now is almost certainly in violation of the requirements for non-profits in the United States and in California, where it is headquartered:

Former ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé is currently listed as the co-CEO of Ethos Capital on the firm’s website.

Ethos Capital tried to buy Public Interest Registry, the non-profit that runs .org domains, but ICANN denied the transaction.

Chehadé’s name was nowhere on Ethos’ website when it announced the .org transaction. His involvement quickly became public because of Whois data for one of Ethos Capital’s domain names. The private equity company admitted that Chehadé was an advisor on the deal.

For months, the Ethos Capital website listed only two employees: CEO Erik Brooks and Chief Purpose Officer Nora Abusitta-Ouri. Abusitta-Ouri worked with Chehadé at ICANN.

The website change listing Chehadé as co-CEO appears to have happened very recently. The last Wayback Machine capture from June 15 did not show him. Elliot Silver spotted the difference today.

Many industry observers may wonder if Chehadé was pegged to be a co-CEO all along, only omitted from the website to avoid more controversy.

I hope that before this is over, some current and former senior staffers at ICANN need to be frog-marched out of their offices in handcuffs.

It’s the only way to fix the organization.

*Keep the Geeks in Charge of the Internet, Project Syndicate, July 7, 2020.

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