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Founders of foreign aid contractor to quit after criticism by MPs

The founders of a UK foreign aid contractor which has received millions of pounds of taxpayers' money are to quit amid widespread criticism over poor practices.

Adam Smith International (ASI), which is reported to have received at least £300 million from the Department for International Development (Dfid) over the past five years, has announced a "restructuring" of its top team.

The move comes after it was heavily criticised for trying to "unduly influence" a parliamentary inquiry by engineering "letters of appreciation" from beneficiaries of its projects.

The Commons International Development Committee said ASI "overstepped the mark" in soliciting testimonials which were submitted as evidence to the MPs' inquiry into the Government's use of aid contractors.

In a damning report, the committee said ASI's actions were "deplorable", "entirely inappropriate" and showed a "serious lack of judgment".

In a statement, ASI said three founding executives - Andrew Kuhn, Amitabh Shrivastava and Peter Young - would step down as it completed its transition to an employee-owned company.

William Morrison, a founding director and ASI's executive chairman, will also leave after leading ASI through the restructuring.

The firm said a key element of the change would be the re-investment of a "significant percentage" of net earnings into developing countries.

In a statement Mr Morrison said: "We regret that certain deficiencies of policy and procedure resulted in our failure to meet the highest standards of corporate governance, such that we did not meet the expectations of Dfid and the public, to whom we are accountable.

"The changes we are making will address the requirement to now meet and exceed these expectations.

"We seek to ensure the highest standards of corporate governance, a fit-for-purpose structure and culture, and accountability."

A Dfid spokeswoman said: "We welcome ASI's temporary withdrawal from Dfid procurement which recognises the seriousness of our concerns about the supplier's behaviour.

"The problems identified by Dfid through our own forensic investigation were fundamental and will not be solved with quick fixes.

"We will closely monitor the steps being taken by ASI to restore confidence in their ability to adhere to the high standards of integrity that the public rightly expect of all our contractors."

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