Potential Scandal At WIPO Involving Director General Francis Gurry

TheRegister did an article yesterday exposing allegations of bizarre and potentially illegal conduct within the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). The Register obtained access to an internal report indicating reasonable grounds to suspect serious misconduct within the UN agency.

“The report, published exclusively by The Register today, outlines serious allegations against WIPO chief Francis Gurry. The organisation’s staff council has also demanded a prompt and independent investigation.

An OnlineDomain.com reader brought this article to my attention and he also commented that “Francis Gurry has been a flag-waver for UDRP from day one, and he has written some very one-sided papers trying to expand the power of the UDRP against domainers. He’s always putting out releasing saying that cybersquatting is on the rise, even when it isn’t.”

Gurry was re-elected director-general of WIPO last month despite questions over the alleged illegal DNA testing of staff, the shipping of computer equipment deemed useful for military purposes to Iran and North Korea and the award of a large IT contract to a company run by an acquaintance of the WIPO chief.”

The internal Report of Misconduct (see PDF here), which includes 54 pages of exhibits, begins:

“I write to report what I believe is serious misconduct by WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. Specifically, I draw your attention to (1) the taking of DNA from senior WIPO staff members without their knowledge or consent, in violation of international human rights, as well as efforts to suppress evidence and investigation of the incident; and (2) evidence of the corruption of a recent procurement that was redirected and awarded to an Australian company led by an acquaintance of Mr Gurry, even though that company had not been selected in the competitive process.”

“It is alleged that Gurry ordered the illegal collection of staff DNA in order to find out who sent anonymous letters of complaint to him and other directors.”

“Gurry has said his next six-year term will focus on adapting WIPO’s mission to better provide for the digital age. WIPO’s procurement process for the new IT contract began in summer of 2013. A bid package and terms of reference were written and sent out.

The report alleges that Gurry had subsequently complained that the bid package had not been sent to Argo Pacific, so it was recalled. An amended package was sent out in or around September 2013 to various companies including Argo Pacific.

The procurement committee followed WIPO rules by creating a formula for judging the various bids, allocating points to different aspects such as cost and technical competence.

The report alleges that Argo Pacific’s bid was 40 to 50 per cent higher than the next highest bid. When Gurry heard this, he allegedly told the committee to reduce the weighting or importance of price. It is alleged in the report that when this proved impossible under WIPO rules, he simply cancelled the procurement process and awarded the contract directly to Argo Pacific – a procedure only allowed in an emergency situation.

The report does not suggest that Argo or those running it acted improperly.

Contacted for comment on the matter this week, a WIPO spokeswoman told The Register:

“The Director General has already stated publicly that the allegations are without foundation and that he has no further comment.””

Update: Just got another tip on who the founder of Argo P@cific is and what is his connection with ICANN and WIPO. Dr Paul Twomey is the founder of Argo P@cific.

“Dr Twomey has been closely involved with the international reform of the Internet’s technical rule making as Chair of the Governmental Advisory Committee for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).”

“Dr. Paul Twomey also served from March 2003 to June 2009 as President and CEO of ICANN.   He served as Senior President until January 2010.”

I even found an article from 2003: “Why the Twomey Rumor Is Bad News“.

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About Konstantinos Zournas

Konstantinos studied Computer Engineering and Computer Science in London and lives in Athens, Greece. He works on domain names, websites and software development. Has been online since 1995 & domaining since 2002.

3 comments

  1. Update: Just got another tip on who the founder of Argo P@cific is and what is his connection with ICANN and WIPO. Dr Paul Twomey is the founder of Argo P@cific.

    “Dr Twomey has been closely involved with the international reform of the Internet’s technical rule making as Chair of the Governmental Advisory Committee for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).”

    “Dr. Paul Twomey also served from March 2003 to June 2009 as President and CEO of ICANN. He served as Senior President until January 2010.”

    I even found an article from 2003: “Why the Twomey Rumor Is Bad News“.

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