CEO departure causes REIWA split

THE sudden departure of the long serving chief executive of the State’s peak property industry group the Real Estate Institute of WA has caused a split within its ranks.

Michael Griffiths was terminated as CEO on December 8, after a vote of the institute’s 14-member council.

However, the unexpected move has upset some members and sparked a splinter group to call for his reinstatement after almost two decades in the role.

The splinter group, which has dubbed itself REIWA First Supporters Group, has written to the institute’s members in support of Mr Griffiths and called for a special general meeting to disband its 14-member council and reinstate the former CEO.

REIWA president Jim Henneberry said council had terminated the CEO’s contract because the institute could no longer work harmoniously with Mr Griffiths.

Mr Henneberry stressed there had been no impropriety or criminal misconduct attached to Mr Griffiths’ departure.

“There was no impropriety and it [the termination] was done with the overwhelming support of 14 councillors,” he said.

Mr Henneberry said that after 19 years with the same CEO, the institute wanted to change direction. He said a settlement and payout had been negotiated and that both parties were now bound by a confidentiality agreement that barred any comment on the nature or details of Mr Griffiths’ departure.

“We’ve come to the end of the road and agreed to come to a settlement and part of that is not to air our dirty laundry in public,” Mr Henneberry said. “That is as much a restraint on us as it is on Michael.”

According to one industry source Mr Griffith’s payout was worth several hundred thousand dollars.

However, a contingent of REIWA’s 1,500 strong member base, is convinced that Mr Griffith’s termination was prompted by personal differences rather than any management shortfall.

The following is an excerpt from a letter distributed to REIWA members via email:

“It is hard to believe what has happened, but it is even more stunning to know how it was organised and carried out,” the letter, purportedly from real estate agent John Franklyn, states.

“Michael was given notice on December 8. He was told to go on holidays immediately for one month, and not to come back. He was not given any reason. In fact, even after being requested, the president of the institute has refused to give any reason to Michael or other members.”

According to the letter, the action group has secured the services of Malcolm McCusker QC and plans to formally request a Special General Meeting.

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