ATLANTA—The chairman and other officers of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA), an association based here that represents about 40% of U.S. hotels, are coming under fire in a new federal lawsuit, according to an article in the Atlanta Business Chronicle.
The newspaper reported that nine members of AAHOA accuse current leaders of “theft, embezzlement and corruption,” according to a lawsuit filed on Aug. 12, which alleges that AAHOA directors and officers, including the current chairman, Pratik Patel, principal of San Antonio, TX-based REM Hospitality, have engaged in misuses of the group’s funds, manipulated bid processes for contracts, destroyed meeting minutes and misdirected charitable donations.
AAHOA, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, consists of more almost 13,000 members. According to the lawsuit, the group has an annual budget of some $10 million and assets worth $7 million.
It has been reported that the members who filed the lawsuit, which states “absent intervention by this court, AAHOA will be crippled, its governance and ethics left in shambles, and its former honest and highly qualified staff forever lost to the organization,” want a judge to order an immediate halt to the violations.
Patel, in a statement to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, called the lawsuit “wasteful and frivolous,” and went on to say: “The current AAHOA Board of Directors has implemented a governance process that is the most transparent in the 25-year history of the association. Such openness does not sit well with some who prefer the old-style politics of the past. It is unfortunate that wild accusations, which have been adjudicated time and again through the AAHOA governance process, have now become part of a wasteful and frivolous lawsuit. We will vigorously defend our association against such reckless claims.”
Furthermore, in a letter to AAHOA members, dated Aug. 18, Patel urges the AAHOA community to defend the association, stating: “Let me be crystal clear. We will not allow these individuals to take our association backwards. And the tactics they have now employed, in their careless attempt, cannot stand. Regardless of personal differences we may have inside AAHOA, it is never acceptable to try to destroy our association using a federal court. We will vigorously defend AAHOA against everyone who attempts to injure us, even these individuals.”