The head of the 'independent' review of the CPA once wrote a glowing endorsement of the CEO he is investigating

Sir Angus Houston. Richard Polden – Pool/Getty Images

Sir Angus Houston, a former head of the Australian Defence Force now running a “fiercely independent” review of CPA Australia, once endorsed the professional body’s CEO Alex Malley as a leader he “deeply respects”.

The accountants’ organisation has been hit by a series of resignations of board directors and objections by some CPA members about Malley’s $1.8 million pay packet and $5.69 million in losses of the organisation’s new consulting business.

Former directors and a group of activist members have called for Malley to step down.

CPA Australia today announced what it called a “thorough review of all claims” to be headed by Sir Angus.

The announcement made it clear Malley would keep his role because he had “consistently exceeded the expectations of the board”.

Ian McPhee, a former Commonwealth Auditor-General, will assist Sir Angus as a panelist. The CPA is in talks with a third person to join the panel.

Both Houston and McPhee warmly endorsed Malley’s book, The Naked CEO, the publication also causing concern among some CPA members in Australia because the organisation’s resources are alleged to have been used to promote it.

Here’s what Houston wrote, according to Amazon:

Alex Malley is a leader that I deeply respect. He is deeply committed to a leader’s most important responsibility: to impart their experience and insight. I strongly support his intent to pass the lessons he has learned from a lifetime of good and bad experiences. His book is a guide to advise and assist young people to become successfully established in professional life.
–Air Chief Marshal (Ret.) Angus Houston AC, AFC

And McPhee:

Many CEOs have taken a winding road to the top. Not everyone drove a bright-orange Datsun like Alex did but all have been on a journey that has shaped their skills and outlook, and honed their determination. There is plenty of good advice in this book, particularly that you should never underestimate your ability to influence outcomes, achieve success and make the world a better place along the way.
–Ian McPhee PSM, FCPA, Auditor-General for Australia, Australian National Audit Office

CPA Australia chair Jim Dickson today also formally announced that directors Deborah Ong, Jennifer Lang and Martin Hourigan have stepped down from the board.

That means seven of the 12 member board haves resigned in recent weeks.

Tim Youngberry, a former ACT divisional president, has been appointed to the board to meet the minimum requirements to make decisions.

This week Malley was also accused of workplace bullying by former CPA Australia’s executive general manager Tony Gleeson.

“A number of cases were reported to me of accusations around bullying, of staff being bullied,” Gleeson told the ABC’s 7.30 program.

“Poor language. Aggressive, vulgar language that you wouldn’t expect in a business world.”

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