News

Thoughtful Media international head Mark Ingrouille refutes fraud allegations after sacking

The president of Thoughtful Media Group’s international operations has branded a series of fraud allegations against him as “inexplicable and surreal” as the US operation prepares to file a lawsuit.

Mark Ingrouille, who has led the influencer agency’s operations Vietnam and Thailand since 2014, was one of three Asia-based managers to be accused of “fraud, embezzlement, breach of contract and breach of duty” in a public company statement yesterday.

Ingrouille, along with Vietnam CFO, Ngoc Linh, and managing director, Tran Trung Kien, were dismissed from the company on March 26 and a lawsuit has been filed against them in Los Angeles, according to a company statement.

The allegations came as a result of “several simultaneous internal investigations and audits”, the TMG’s statement added.

Following the article’s publication in Campaign Asia, Ingrouille issued the following statement, claiming he was never employed directly by TMG and was instead retained as a consultant.

He said: “I was surprised to see an article published in yesterday’s Campaign Asia alleging misconduct by me from Thoughtful Media Group Inc (TMG) in regards to their South East Asia operations.

“Although I have never been an employee of TMG, I was retained as a consultant to advise their management on sales and operations, given my experience of over 25 years running successful companies in the Asia Pacific region.

“This small part-time consultancy was most recently primarily involved in identifying and introducing them to potential acquirers in the region to help try and save their business. I refute absolutely any suggestion that I have been involved in malfeasance or malpractice in regards to my consultancy with TMG. Frankly, I find the accusations contained in the article both bizarre and hurtful. Inexplicable and surreal.”

He added: “But perhaps what is saddest about this episode is that some good, hard-working people who have really tried their best to pull that company’s business out from the mire have had their reputations tarnished by unproven allegations. That’s just wrong.”

Ingrouille, a former CEO of Publicis Thailand and McCann Thailand, is now based in London.

He joined the Hollywood-founded TMG in 2014 to oversee its international operations, which then consisted of China. One year later, the company opened its Thai operation in Bangkok under the leadership of Somyot Chairat.

According to Thorman, Chairat then moved into a part-time consulting role in early 2015, with Bani Tan joining as a permanent MD. However, Chairat’s LinkedIn lists him as leaving the company last December.

The Vietnam operation opened in 2016 under the helm of Tony Truong, the former head of digital at ad agency Golden Communication Group. Truong lasted six months in the role and now works as a digital media director at Saigon-based Yan TV.

The company’s statement is in full:

Since the inception of TMG, an unconditional principle of integrity has been a core value as we grew our business globally. Our commitment to clients begins and ends with honesty and transparency, and strict adherence to these values is the absolute cornerstone of our business operations and practices. One goal of that guiding principle has always been to support true content creators and online talent.

“We were therefore stunned to learn, in the course of several simultaneous internal investigations and audits, including our copyright and YouTube policy audit in Vietnam, that some members of our Vietnam office had circumvented this guiding policy. We were equally as stunned and outraged to learn in the course of our investigation that three members of our senior management team — Dr. Mark Ingrouille (President, International Operations), Ms. Le Ngoc Linh (CFO & General Manager, Vietnam) and Mr. Tran Trung Kien (Managing Director, Vietnam) — had engaged in conduct that was at irreconcilable odds with our unconditional principles of integrity, honesty and transparency. Immediately upon learning of facts that suggested improper behaviour, we commenced an internal investigation led by CEO Dan Thorman.

“That investigation has uncovered strong evidence that these individuals engaged in extensive actions directly opposed to the best interests of TMG and in derogation of their duties to our company. We were therefore forced to take immediate remedial measures to ensure the protection and ongoing viability of our company, starting with the March 26, 2018 termination of all three executives from their engagement with our company for cause.

A federal lawsuit against these individuals was also filed in the United States District Court in Los Angeles on April 19, 2018. We are confident that by addressing and eliminating this activity swiftly and aggressively, we will be able to preserve and foster the goodwill and positive business reputation we have strived to develop with our customers, vendors and business colleagues, so that TMG can continue to provide the outstanding services it had proudly delivered in the Southeast Asian market place for many years to come.

“We are continually looking to improve our service on behalf of our legitimate creators, their fans, and our advertising clients seeking brand safety. The good news is that TMG will emerge from these audits, and the changes that they prompted, stronger and more ready for the future than ever.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella Asia newsletter now.

 

SUBSCRIBE

Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing