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Email exchange Audit Committee and HCGM President regarding Koimisis Audit Report

Given that the Board of Directors takes matters of internal audits seriously and after obtaining an agreement with the previous Audit Committee at the Board of Directors meeting on July 9, 2019, we are posting the correspondence between the President of the HCGM Annie Koutrakis and Mr. George Plessas Secretary of the previous Audit Committee. This correspondence shows that the report was forwarded to the appropriate authority (the new Audit Committee) along with the accompanying emails. We remain at the disposal of the new Audit Committee to provide them with all necessary documents, and information to complete this audit should they decide to do so. We have only included the original English version because we are not comfortable with translating these into Greek without inadvertently changing the meaning.


From: George Plessas
Date: June 25, 2019 at 11:16:51 AM GMT-4
To: « akoutrakis « , Dennis Marinos, Haralambos Babaroutsis, Andreas Crilis, Achilles Nikopoulos
Cc: Vicky Kompogiannis, Antonios Papagiannakis, Vathis John

Good morning to all,


Firstly, I would like to congratulate everyone for being voted in to the new Board of Directors of the HCGM and wish you all best of luck in your new duties.


Furthermore, the Audit Committee elected on February 17th 2019, has drafted an Audit Report following our examination of the « Panagitsa file » and the cost of reconstruction. Copy of said report, was submitted via email to the previous Board of Directors and a meeting to present our findings was scheduled but unfortunately did not occur due to a lack of quorum.
Thus, we believe, it is our responsibility and ethical duty towards the members and organization, to present our findings to the new Board Of Directors, since we believe our discoveries require immediate attention. We also consider that our recommendations will be useful and helpful for the new administration.


Moreover, we are aware that your regular BOD meetings will be held every fist Tuesday of every month. We request that the presentation of our Audit Report be put on the Agenda for the meeting of July 2nd 2019.
Kindly, find attached copy of the Audit Report for your perusal and examination prior to its presentation.


We await your confirmation promptly,


George Plessas – Secratary of Audit Committee


From: Annie Koutrakis
Date: July 4, 2019 at 5:44:04 PM GMT-4
To: George Plessas
Cc: Dennis Marinos, Haralambos Babaroutsis, Andreas Crilis, Achilles Nikopoulos, Vicky Kompogiannis, Antonios Papagiannakis, Vathis John
Subject: Re: Presentation of Audit Report – Drafted May 2019

Dear Mr. Plessas and Former Audit Committee Members,


The Board of Directors thanks you for the work you did on the Audit Committee (AC) in the three months since you were chosen by the General Assembly to augment the previous Audit Committee.


You chose to concentrate on the rebuilding of our Koimisis Tis Theotokou Church, a very ambitious goal given that an audit of a large complex project of over $4 million such as the rebuilding of the church would normally take professional auditors several months to complete while working on a full-time basis.


One of the reasons for this is that they would review and analyze all the files and documentation related to the project and discuss all key issues and findings with those concerned before even a first draft of their report could be produced for review. It is clearly impossible to properly complete an audit of this nature, complexity and scope within an extremely limited time frame, with limited resources.


Once an Audit Committee completes a Draft report, it then shares it with all interested parties for their review, input and comment. After all that, the AC would finalize its report and submit it to the Board of Directors, along with comments summarizing any disagreements with the Administration. This is the accepted practice for Audits such as this, recognized by all professional orders and consistent with Industry Best Practices.


You did not follow such practices as you presented your report as Final without having presented even one draft to the Administration in order to obtain any input. I understand that the previous Administration has numerous such issues with the facts, interpretations and conclusions included in your report but they did not have an opportunity to present them.


Furthermore, you have not included along with your report the Dissenting opinion prepared by two members of the AC, even though including such an opinion is industry accepted practice and moreover you agreed to do so in accordance with the terms of the Confidentiality Agreement that you signed. Under such circumstances, we have no choice but to consider your report as an incomplete Draft and therefore not Final.


Given that on June 9, 2019, five highly qualified and experienced individuals were overwhelmingly elected to serve on the Audit Committee of the HCGM for the next three years, your mandate along with the other members of the previous AC terminated just after the election on June 9th. This is also true for the former Board of Directors on June 16th, as per HCGM bylaws.


Therefore, since the mandate of the newly elected AC has already started, we will be forwarding your (Draft) Report along with the Opinion of the Dissenting members of the AC and the comments prepared by members of the previous Administration to the new Audit Committee. They will have to undoubtedly decide on their own Audit Plan and course of action. Should the new AC decide to pursue an audit of the Koimisis Church rebuilding they will have complete, unrestricted access to everything required to perform a complete audit following accepted audit procedures and industry best practices, including the report you prepared.


Your report speaks for itself and the new Audit Committee could contact you if they need further information or explanation and we defer to them on all next steps on this file. Based on the aforementioned, we therefore cannot accept your request to present your report at the next HCGM Board meeting.


Finally, we would like to remind you that although your mandate has ended you continue to be bound by the terms of the Confidentiality Agreement that you signed and therefore you may not divulge, disclose or communicate to any person, post on any social media platform, firm or any media outlet any confidential information concerning the affairs of the HCGM including without limitation information regarding its operations and financial affairs and consequently you may not disclose or divulge in any manner the contents of your Audit Report.


Yours truly,
On behalf of the Executive Committee of the
Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal


Annie Koutrakis,
President


From: Annie Koutrakis
Date: July 5, 2019 at 10:47:05 AM GMT-4
To: Anthony Gouvoussis, angelo.marinos, chrisalevizos, steve.malas, tassos.vamianakis
Cc: g_plessas, vkompogiannis, omalos, johnvathis, dmarinos, hbabaroutsis, acrilis, anikopoulos
Subject: Fwd: Presentation of Audit Report – Drafted May 2019

Dear Audit Committee 2019-22,


I have attached for your consideration and to use as you see appropriate, the audit report produced by the previous Audit Committee on the rebuilding of the Koimisis Tis Theotokou Church. I have also included for the record the view of the Executive Committee of the HCGM on the report, particularly on its inherent limitations, and also stated that the next steps are totally up to you. Please find below the email exchange and the attached audit report.


Thank you,


Annie Koutrakis
Présidente – Πρόεδρος – President
CHGM -Communauté hellénique du Grand Montréal
ΕΚΜΜ- Ελληνική Κοινότητα Μείζονος Μοντρεάλ
HCGM – Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal


From: George Plessas
Date: July 5, 2019 at 10:52:21 AM GMT-4
To: Annie Koutrakis
Cc: Dennis Marinos, Haralambos Babaroutsis, Andreas Crilis, Achilles Nikopoulos, Vicky Kompogiannis, Antonios Papagiannakis, Vathis John
Subject: Re: Presentation of Audit Report – Drafted May 2019
Reply-To: George Plessas

Madam President,

We acknowledge having received your email reply about our request to meet and present the Board Of Directors with our Audit Report.

After having read your response, it comes to no surprise that you are objecting to our demands.

In your email correspondence you allege that we selected to concentrate our Audit on the file of the church reconstruction. You also allege, that our Audit was performed within a restricted time period, hence doubting our findings.

In addition, you affirm that the complexity of  file requires professional auditors, thus discrediting our work and uncovering. You state that we did not meet with the administration and all concerned parties prior to drafting a preliminary report. I must inform you, that we requested to meet with key players in this file. The previous BOD and President, refused said meeting. We were told, that this is not a “Hollywood Police Movie” and we can not interrogate individuals.  All email communications have been documented.

Inevitably, we disagree with your suggestion, that we should have met the BOD in order to get their input , review and comments. The Audit Committee is independent and shall not be influenced or steered by the Board of Directors. The bylaws clearly indicate, that we must provide a copy to the Board of Directors of our report and present our findings to the members. Accepting to alter our report, based on their input and comments is illegal, unethical and dishonest. WE DO NOT OPERATE THIS WAY.

Consequently, we requested to present our report to the previous Board of directors and a meeting was set for June 8th 2019. Coincidentally, the Board Of Directors did not reach quorum and meeting was postponed. This matter was beyond our control.

As for  not having respected the Industry Best Practices or the professional orders we wish to tell you, that we conducted our Audit based on the terms and conditions set out  in the internal bylaws of the organization. The members of the AC have respected all constraints as per article 16 of the HCGM internal bylaws. Besides, the internal bylaws do not refer to « professional auditors »  nor reference to the « best practices »  guidelines.  This is your personal altered opinion and a misinterpretation of the bylaws. Your argument is unfounded. 

Furthermore, in regards to the reports bearing a dissenting opinion, we wish to advise you, that we do not endorse nor approve said report. The dissenting opinion is from Mr. Vlachos who was absent throughout the entire auditing process. Said report, is also signed by Mr Alexopoulos, whom had attended most of our meetings but due to a language barrier was unable to take part actively. I must specify, that these two individuals were imposed on us by Mr. Pagonis. 

You are clearly contradicting yourself, when you request that the dissenting opinion report by added to the Audit Report. At first, you allege that due to the complexity and scope of the Panagitsa file and the limited time frame, it is impossible to complete an Audit of this nature. However, you want us to include a dissenting opinion report, prepared by Mr Vlachos and this, within 24 hrs following his return from vacation and him having examined minimal documentation. Is it because his report is beneficial and favorable to you and the past President?

Additionally, you affirm that on June 9th 2019, five “highly” qualified individuals have been elected to perform the duties of the Audit Committee. How do you know that they are “highly” qualified? Have they proved themselves to you or your BOD? Do you have passed business dealings with said individuals? Or are they “highly” qualified because you chose them and supported their candidature during elections?  Have they evidenced any merit, know how and experience in this domain?  The fact that you promoted these individuals during your election campaign, can be interpreted as a conflict of interest. Notwithstanding, the fact, that a member of the Audit Committee is the sibling of your Vice President, Chair of BoD, Chair Laval Regional Council.  This is unethical and must be addressed.

As for our report that “speaks for itself”, we are proud and support our work. We audited the file with objectivity, discretion and transparency; words possibly unfamiliar to you. A copy must and should be submitted to the new Audit Committee for their perusal and our discoveries should not be taken lightly. There is serious reason for concern and immediate attention is required.

Furthermore, there is no need for you to remind us of our obligations towards the confidentiality agreement which we signed Vi Coactus. You are manipulating the situation based on said agreement and using it as a silencing tool.  Rest assured, we will not be intimidated nor silenced by yourself or your team members. We are aware of our obligations and have honored our agreement.
Further, we demand to meet with the BOD and current Audit Committee and present our report and findings as clearly stipulated in the bylaws. If you continue to ignore, belittle and object to our demands, we will take all necessary measures foreseen in the internal bylaws to communicate the information the members of our organization.
Finally, please let it be known that we are greatly disappointed with your behavior and handling of this matter. We believed that as a new President, you would act with transparency and respect towards the members. Instead, we realize, and this based on your stand in this matter, that your undertakings are debatable and doubtful. Your email reply is evidently condescending and arrogant. We fear, that your involvement and participation within the organization will result to little change for the Hellenic Community of Montreal.

Regards, 

George Plessas – Secretary on behalf of the Audit Committee (Feb. 2019 to June 2019)