Pritz Conflict Of Interest With ARI: Report

Kurt Pritz imageThe conflict of interest that led to the resignation of ICANN’s Kurt Pritz, new generic Top Level Domain guru and officially known as Chief Strategy Officer, was with registry services provider ARI Registry Services according to a Domain Incite report.

Last week in a letter to the ICANN community, the new CEO and president Fadi Chehadé wrote “regretfully … I have accepted the resignation of Kurt Pritz, who has served most recently as ICANN’s Chief Strategy Officer.”

In the letter, Chehadé said “Kurt has submitted his resignation because of a recently identified conflict of interest, which he immediately communicated to ICANN. After analysing this conflict of interest, we decided that a change in Kurt’s role within ICANN would be appropriate. Kurt decided to resign his position and role as an officer of ICANN, to best serve the interests of the organisation. Kurt will be engaged as a subject matter expert where needed, but will have no access to new gTLD applicant information nor will he play a role in the new gTLD programme.”

Domain Incite has “managed to uncover the basic facts of the story – more than enough to confirm that it’s a personal issue and to establish that there do not appear to be any financial conflicts.”

Domain Incite “decided not to report the full details, other than to say the conflict relates to ARI Registry Services, a major provider of back-end registry services for new gTLD applicants.”

Domain Incite understands “the conflict was voluntarily disclosed by Pritz” and that “he also appears to have been held to at least as high a standard of ethics as ICANN’s own board of directors.”

“While ICANN clearly determined that there was a risk of a perception of a conflict of interest, [Domain Incite] discovered no reason to believe there was any actual wrongdoing by ICANN, ARI or Pritz.”

Domain Incite cannot find any evidence that Pritz gave any favourable treatment, rather that if anything “the evidence would most likely lead to the opposite conclusion.”

“For example, during recent Trademark Clearinghouse implementation talks, Pritz was staunchly opposed to key aspects of a community solution co-developed by ARI.”