Director general of IPPF withdraws resignation

Alvaro Bermejo, who said he would leave the sexual health charity in the wake of allegations of fraud and sexual misconduct at the organisation, will stay to help shape reforms

Alvaro Bermejo
Alvaro Bermejo

The director general of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, who had planned to step down amid allegations that his charity employed sex workers, has withdrawn his resignation.

An IPPF spokeswoman said Alvaro Bermejo would be staying to help reform the governance and management structures at the international sexual health charity, which has its headquarters in the UK and is the subject of a Charity Commission regulatory compliance case.

The charity’s former Africa regional director, Lucien Kouakou, was dismissed in November after allegations of fraud and sexual misconduct emerged, prompting the commission to open its case.

Kouakou then made a series of allegations, in documents filed as part of a court case against his sacking, that the charity had hired sex workers for staff, donors and guests at official functions, according to the Daily Mail newspaper.

It is understood that Bermejo had offered his resignation over the issue, but in a statement made today, the spokeswoman said: "We are delighted that IPPF’s director general Alvaro Bermejo has withdrawn his resignation so he can participate in the transformation of the IPPF through the reforms approved by governing council."

She said the IPPF’s governing council met last weekend to discuss how the federation was governed and managed, and had transferred its governance responsibilities and functions to an executive committee, which would lead the federation and coordinate its reform.

She said Bermejo had appointed two independent taskforces, one to review the federation’s governance and management structures, the other to review its business model.

She added: "The former Africa regional director, Lucien Kouakou, was dismissed by the IPPF after a disciplinary process. A court application made in Kenya by Kouakou was rejected by the court in its entirety."

She said the charity had kept all stakeholders informed of the issues and "continues to work to the highest possible safeguarding standards for all its clients, staff and volunteers".

A commission spokeswoman said the regulator was aware of the allegations made by Kouakou and the changes to the charity’s structure.

"We are looking into these urgently to determine our regulatory response and our next steps," she said.

"In the meantime, our existing regulatory compliance case remains under way. This case was prompted by a number of serious incident reports made to us relating to concerns in one of the charity’s regional offices, including concerns about fraud and sexual harassment. We have been engaging with the charity on these matters."

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