Wednesday, 26 March 2014, Gibraltar:
On 31 October 2013, Famous Four Media reported on its surprise at the decision of the Panellist Professor Dr. Guido Tawil, partner in M&M Bomchil abogados, appointed by the International Centre for Expertise, in the case of SportAccord v dot Sport Limited EXP 471/ICANN/88, being a community objection by SportAccord (a rival applicant) to the gTLD registry application of dot Sport Limited (represented by Famous Four Media).
Famous Four Media was not alone in finding the determination irregular in a number of respects. For example, Dr. Tawil re-interpreted a key ICANN standard, inexplicably turning the ordinary meaning of the term “likelihood” to “possible” in the context of deciding the ‘likelihood of material detriment’ to the community in question. Famous Four Media submitted a Reconsideration Request with ICANN on 8 November 2013 in which, amongst other matters, we raised the question of Dr. Guido Tawil’s alignment with Sport Accord interests.
Requests for checks of appointment of Guido Tawil
Furthermore, we requested that ICANN ask the relevant Dispute Resolution Service Provider, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), to review its appointment of Dr. Tawil. ICANN rejected the Reconsideration Request on 8 January 2014.
Famous Four Media wrote to the ICC to question Guido Tawil directly about his links with SportAccord or the International Olympic Committee (“IOC”). The ICC declined to do so.
SportAccord and IOC
The IOC and SportAccord are inextricably linked. Three of the members of SportAccord’s Exective Council are designated by the Association of Olympic Federations (Gian Franco Kasper, Pat McQuaid and Marisol Casado). On its own website Sport Accord states that it enjoys “a close collaborative relationship with the IOC. SportAccord fully recognises the IOC and the Olympic Movement’s authority; it is and will remain a loyal partner in the achievements of the Olympic Movement objectives” – see more at: http://www.sportaccord.com/en/what-we-do/dfsu/?idContent=16323#sthash.G6CFf0Wu.dpuf. The IOC plays a key supporting role to several project areas of SportAccord. The sharing of values and knowledge allows for a more complex approach in addressing a wide range of topics such as anti-doping, illegal betting, match-fixing, sustainable sports events, sports for all and IF recognition.
Commercial relationship between Guido Tawil and the IOC
Famous Four Media can now reveal that it has evidence of direct commercial relationships between Guido Tawil, the M&M Bomchil law firm and the IOC. Guido Tawil is a Senior Partner of the law firm M&M Bomchil.
- Guido Tawil, DirectTV and IOC broadcasting rights
One of Guido Tawil’s ‘significant clients’ (according to the Chambers & Partners law directory) is DirecTV (http://www.chambersandpartners.com/19/572/editorial/9/1).
On 7 February 2014, just 3 months after having provided his decision in SportAccord v dot Sport Limited EXP 471/ICANN/88 DirecTV secured a rights deal covering Latin America for the 2014 winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia and the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. DirecTV will broadcast the Olympics in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. The deal covers television, online and mobile platforms.
2. DirectTV, Torneos y Competencias S.A. and Guido Tawil
DirectTV Latin America is the principal shareholder in Torneos y Competencias S.A. (TyC, also referred as “Torneos”). TyC is another sports communications firm in the Latin American region and is headquartered in Buenos Aires. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torneos_y_Competencias
TyC is also a major client of M&M Bomchil law firm. What is more, the President of TyC is Marcelo Bombau, who is also a Senior Partner in M&M Bomchil and is therefore a business partner of Guido Tawil. (Source: m.chambersandpartners.com/firm/2373/9; see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torneos_y_Competencias page last modified on 8 February 2014.)
In the M. & M. Bomchil Attorneys Firm Brochure from 2008, the Executive Director of TyC, Luis Nofal, endorses M&M Bomchil. Marcelo Bombau is also a Board Member of the Fundacion Torneos y Competencias along with the son and daughter of the Founder, Luis Nofal. TyC shareholders include DirecTV Latin America (33.2%) and Luis Nofal Sports Holding SA (by Luis Nofal, 23.53%).
3. TyC and IOC broadcasting rights
TyC has a long standing business relationship with IOC having secured broadcasting rights for the Olympics on 5 consecutive occasions since the Atlanta Games in 1996. It most recently won the Argentinian television rights for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics and London 2012 Olympic Games http://www.sportspromedia.com/news/new_broadcast_deals_for_tyc .
Despite a professional career and M&M Bomchil’s close personal and commercial links built with companies that have secured the highly sought after rights to broadcast the Olympics, Dr. Tawil declared no conflict of interest prior to accepting his appointment as independent arbitrator.
In the context of the foregoing research, there is no question that Dr. Guido Tawil should have declared his conflict prior to accepting the appointment and recused himself.
Famous Four Media is considering all options open to it in the light of this new evidence. In addition, Famous Four Media intends to press for greater transparency surrounding the appointment of Dr. Tawil and the rationale for his decision.
Peter Young,Chief Legal Officer
About Famous Four Media
Famous Four Media Limited was set up in 2011 by a small group of recognized domain name experts and successful financiers to actively provide products and services to TLD Registry operators under ICANN’s new generic Top Level Domains (“gTLD”) program. Drawing on the best from both Registries and Registrars, Famous Four Media’s management team has extensive experience in the domain name industry having successfully launched, operated, marketed and run generic TLDs under previous rounds and having managed some of the largest corporate and retail domain name registrars in the world.The 59 gTLD applications, that are currently under Famous Four Media Limited management, include some of the most interesting and valuable domain suffixes, such as .accountant, .BID, .DATE, .DOWNLOAD, .FAITH, .LOAN, .MEN,. REVIEW, .SCIENCE, .TRADE, .WEBCAM and .WIN