ZL9HR Campbell Island DX-pedition Business Summary
As you were a sponsoring organization of the ZL9HR DX-pedition, the non-HARAOA team members of ZL9HR wish to bring to your attention concerns regarding what, in our view, is a misappropriation of donations from the DX community by the officers of the Hellenic Amateur Radio Association of Australia (HARAOA) who are keeping your donations and not reimbursing those of us who paid for this DX-pedition. We believe your donation was intended to support the ZL9HR DX-pedition and not intended to be diverted to HARAOA’s general fund.
Early in 2012, it was announced that a DX-pedition to Campbell Island was being organized by HARAOA under the leadership of Tommy Horozakis, VK2IR as team leader and John Chalkiarakis, VK3YP, as co-team leader. These gentlemen are President and Treasurer of HARAOA, an Australian nonprofit entity.
As the roster of ten operators quickly filled, team leader Tommy Horozakis and co-team leader John Chalkiarakis issued emails on April 10, 2012 and April 12, 2012 to team members stating the approximate amount each operator would pay towards the DX-pedition, and that the final cost would be offset by donations received from others.(Attachment 1)
This arrangement was the understanding under which the eight non-HARAOA operators joined the expedition and each of us paid $8,700 (USD) or a team total of $106,448 (NZD) at the Oct. 15, 2012 exchange rate. By virtue of these two e-mails and our own experience with DX-peditions we did not probe the financial arrangements further. We understood that our travel and living expenses to and in New Zealand were at our own expense.
The DX-pedition began operations on Dec. 1 and ended on Dec. 9, 2012, yielding 43,000 Q’s. Near the end of the expedition, several team members asked for clarification of the financial arrangements. Based on our earlier involvement with the donors we knew that over $25,400 (NZD) as of Nov. 25, 2012 had been donated by the DX community before any QSL income. However, distribution of sponsorship funds had not been discussed in detail up to that time.
Because of a split operating schedule the entire team was never together during the bulk of the time at ZL9, but during the dismantling phase the majority of the group had one meal together, at which time the question of finances was raised with the team leaders. They made some vague promises about providing an accounting later but they provided no clarity on how much was donated or how this might be distributed.
It was not possible to discuss this further during the return voyage due to the rough seas although we expected to have a chance to continue the discussion after arriving at New Zealand. Unfortunately, the two team leaders failed to attend the planned last night celebration in Invercargill. Later, by email, the non-HARAOA members of the expedition requested a detailed financial statement from HARAOA Treasurer John Chalkiarakis which we suggested be submitted by the end of January, 2013. (Attachment 2)
Mr. Chalkiarakis flatly refused and told us later in an email dated December 19, 2012 that we would not be getting any of the donated money nor would he discuss the issue any further. Note that the $5,000 (AUD) that Mr. Chalkiarakis mentions he put up for the customs bond will be returned to him in full when the equipment is returned to Australia. (Attachment 3)
A few days later in a posting on e-ham Mr. Chalkiarakis claimed that:
“At this point in time the DX-pedition budget is at a deficit and not in surplus. There will be NO donations paid to team members as this was never agreed prior to dxpedition. If there is any surplus and currently there is no surplus – funds will stay with HARAOA as a non profit organization to fund future events and sponsor dxpeditions.” (20 Dec).
Then, within days he returned $1,000 to the Northern California DX Foundation saying the money was ‘excess funds’. This is also being publicized on the HARAOA website, in our view, an attempt at damage control after a public backlash on various forums such as DX-World and e-ham after concerns over funding became public. (Attachment 4)
The non HARAOA team members found Mr. Chalkiarakis’ statements to be conflicting, confusing, filled with falsehoods, evasive and they included uncalled for personal attacks. Let’s be clear, we paid all major DX-pedition expenses “in full” before sailing.
– Boat ($81,075 (NZD),
– NZ permit fees ($8,165 (NZD)
– Equipment shipping ($12,524 (NZD)
None of these major costs were reduced by your donations, as promised
Early in the schedule, a ZL9HR website was established to distribute information on the status of the expedition and to solicit donations. While the website solicits donations, it is (and was) silent on the now known fact that donated money goes to HARAOA, not to the ZL9HR expedition. (Attachment 5)
Even though we enjoyed ourselves and were successful despite the hardships of the trip, we paid for this DX-pedition in full and are saddened to have discovered late in the game that we (and you) were deceived by HARAOA’s officers into believing that we would be treated fairly, only to discover that their intent was anything but fair. We, you, and the greater DX community were misled since the donations intended for the ZL9HR DX-pedition are actually being kept by HARAOA.
We ask that you, as a ZL9HR sponsor, demand a detailed accounting from HARAOA which clearly explains how funds to support the ZL9HR DX-pedition were used to reduce the overall cost of the DX-pedition to those who put up the money to fund the project. Given the conflicting private and public statements by HARAOA, we believe that only an expression of concern from the significant donors will lead to the possibility of a clear accounting of the expedition’s finances being provided.
It is truly unfortunate that the HARAOA leadership team’s misrepresentations and outright falsehoods were not discovered earlier. Several of us were actively engaged in soliciting funds from our own and other clubs and foundations in support of this effort and we are extremely embarrassed by having been deceived. At this point, none of us have high expectations that we will be reimbursed for even a small fraction of our expenditure to fund this DX-pedition. However, we are concerned that this unethical behavior will weigh upon future DX-petitioners, sponsoring organizations and individuals. We want to ensure this never happens again.
Additionally, we are pursuing other remedies in dealing with HARAOA and their misappropriation of your donations and our operating funds.