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ICANN has neatly sidestepped scrutiny from its newly elected at-large board members in authorising a payment approaching half a million dollar dollars to its law firm. ICANN is deeply in debt to the firm, Jones Day Reavis and Pogue, which could pull the plug on the quango if it called in the debts.

The payment of $465,553.67 was made by the six-man Executive Committee of ICANN, at a meeting that excluded at-large board members including Auerbach and Mueller-Maguhn. It's the first time such a payment has been approved without the full board present, suggests TBTF's Ted Byfield in his Roving Reporter column.

Jones Day has performed ICANN's legal duties since partner Joe Sims befriended Jon Postel, head of ICANN's predecessor IANA, and the law firms' Louis Touton subsequently became ICANN's general counsel.

The firm's continuing role has been widely criticised, and in his manifesto at-large rep Karl Auerbach wrote:- "The firm has no special credentials to offer to ICANN. And its services have been, to my mind, extremely expensive, not simply in terms of dollars but also in terms of the alienation that has been created between ICANN and the public."

The payment, which covers the work of three Jones Day lawyers, including Sims, in the gTLD hearings last Fall, was unearthed by ICANN-watching weblog, ICANN Blog.

As Byfield notes, ICANN has netted pocketed $2.2 million from global Top Level Domain applicants; what ICANN has done with the balance, it has yet to reveal. ®

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