NiP management cleared by report
The current NIP management has been cleared of any wrongdoing following the publication of an independent report into allegations made against the organisation and CEO Hicham Chahine.
The 12-page report by Ian Smith, a sports lawyer and Commissioner of the Esports Integrity Coalition (ESIC), "does not find that the current management of NiP, including Hicham Chahine, was actively involved in any malicious activities around the allegations raised by former players and employees, including Fifflaren," according to a statement issued by the World Esports Association (WESA).
The investigation had been requested by WESA on August 21 following numerous claims of gross mismanagement in NIP, who had allegedly withheld prize money won by their CS:GO team in 2013 and mistreated staff members and players over the years.
The report confirms that the money owed to the players was never paid as Stockholm Esports Production AB, the entity that initially controlled NiP, went bankrupt in 2014, "leaving significant creditors unpaid, including the players." After that, Mr. Chahine came in as an investor, but, according to the report, he was not involved in the organisation's daily operations until early 2016, after he had become aware "of the scale of mismanagement" within the company.
"He [Mr. Chahine]. decided to reorganise the company and take a more active role in the management personally," the report explains.
"Over a relatively short period, all Former Management were removed from the company, both in terms of management and shareholding. New, high level private investors were found and a wholescale corporate restructure took place with new high level hiring. Hicham Chahine assumed the role of CEO, a new board was appointed and new procedures put in place."
With regards to complaints from other former players and staff members, the report acknowledges that some of those cases were handled "poorly" by NIP and says that new protocols have been put in place to prevent similar cases from happening in the future.
The report also says that NIP helped the 2013 CS:GO players to resolve their tax issues by contracting an audit firm to assist them and covering all the costs associated with the process, with a sum of SEK40,000 (approximately $4,100) being agreed with each player to help to cover these tax bills.
"The report further outlines that the new management under Hicham Chahine had to deal with issues arising from gross mismanagement of the previous management of NiP and did take appropriate action where necessary," a statement from WESA read.
"NiP´s current corporate governance structure is described as professional with strict procedures and protocols that ensure strong oversight by the Board of Directors.
"While some of the handling of these situations still caused issues for individuals, the overall picture shows that the intention of the current NiP management was always to resolve and improve the situation.
"Given the findings of the report WESA Commissioner Pietro Fringuelli concluded that the activities of Ninjas in Pyjamas and Hicham Chahine do not merit any formal consequences. Therefore, NiP will remain a full member of WESA and Hicham Chahine will continue to sit on the WESA Executive Board."
"We are happy to see that the hard work we have carried out since 2016 reconstructing NiP is acknowledged and outlined publicly in the report by Ian Smith," NIP said.
"The report also highlights the differences between old management before 2016, and new management after 2016. It is no secret that gross mismanagement occurred under previous management before 2016 at NiP, leading up to the sweeping management and ownership changes in 2016.
"The situation has caused tremendous stress for players, employees and partners, and it’s a relief to be able to stand up straight and say that we are good people. We are human beings with an immense passion for esports; capable of making mistakes but doing so from a place of pure intentions and righting our wrongs where we find them.
"As the extensive third-party investigation has concluded, and we have resolved all issues brought to our attention from the past; we are forever grateful for the support we have received throughout the history of NiP from dedicated fans and our industry colleagues. We are embarking on a new chapter of Ninjas in Pyjamas: With new investors and increased resources, welcoming new hires to strengthen the management team and organization, opening our new player training facilities to better support our players competitively, and increasing our investments into our brand and fans. "