For the first time since the Sales Integrity Program was initiated by the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, an agent has been sanctioned for violating the SIP Code of Conduct.
As a result of the sanctions by the Keeneland Association, Lexington agent Jim Cullen is prohibited from participating in Keeneland sales through 2010. Because all sales companies are SIP members, it is expected that sanctions will be in effect at all North American sales, according to Keeneland vice president Harvie Wilkinson.
"We have notified the other sale companies, and Fasig-Tipton has agreed to abide by it and we expect the others to also," Wilkinson said.
The reasons for the actions against Cullen were not detailed by Keeneland nor Wilkinson. The Sales Integrity Program’s Code of Conduct is incorporated into the Conditions of Sale under which all North American sales are conducted.
Wilkinson said Keeneland investigated two complaints the sale company received about Cullen and determined they were legitimate. Wilkinson said the complaints were discussed with Cullen and the agent did not contest them and agreed to the sanctions. Wilkinson said that after 2010, Cullen can seek to have the sanctions lifted and Keeneland would make a determination after hearing from the agent.
"First and foremost, I would like to make it clear that this action has nothing to do with unscrupulous behavior on my part at any sale," Cullen said in a statement. "This problem is a byproduct of an overzealous bank claiming sales proceeds that belonged to my clients. Unfortunately, two or three of my partners have not received their proceeds, which total approximately $25,000. I have and will continue to work with these clients to make sure they are paid in full. I am embarrassed and truly sorry it has come to this, but I am a strong supporter of the Sales Integrity Task Force and respect their decision while I work to resolve these business matters."
D. G. Van Clief Jr., who chairs the SIP monitoring committee, said the body does not initiate action against agents but only works to help ensure the Code of Conduct is incorporated into sale companies’ Conditions of Sale.
He said the fact an agent has been sanctioned under the program "speaks to the effectiveness of the new conditions of sale. At this point, you have to say the program is working."