The troubles at the American Bible Society took a new turn on Thursday, June 5, when the board of trustees voted not to renew the annual contract of ABS President Dr. Paul Irwin (right).
Irwin and Chief Financial Officer Richard Stewart had been suspended with pay for weeks, following a May 18 article by The New York Times outlining possible financial and operational irregularities at the organization.
According to ABS spokesman Roy Lloyd, Irwin's current contract expires at the end of the organization's fiscal year, June 30. Lloyd also confirmed that the American Bible Society's executive vice presidents, Dr. R.L. Vest and the Reverend Simon Barnes, will retain interim responsibility for day-to-day operations, reporting to Chairman of the Board Dr. Dennis C. Dickerson. The status of CFO Stewart remains unclear, according to Lloyd.
Financial statements released by the ABS indicate that Irwin's total compensation for 2007 was approximately $330,000. Stewart's compensation was approximately $274,000.
The board previously announced that a forensic accounting firm would be engaged to investigate ABS records. The firm, however, has not yet been named. "The board is reviewing proposals from firms," Lloyd said. Experts consulted by WORLD say that a delay in naming a firm could result in records being destroyed or other aspects of the investigation being compromised. Lloyd, however, said the ABS has taken steps to prevent that. "Everything was locked down," he said. "Computers, files, everything."
Lloyd added, "That's not to say that there is any presumption of blame or wrong-doing on anyone's part. We just want everyone to know that this investigation will be done with complete integrity."