Alan VanderMolen Exits Edelman After China Probe
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Alan VanderMolen Exits Edelman After China Probe

Former Asia-Pacific CEO and global vice-chairman leaves after agency's internal investigation was sparked by the detention of CCTV anchor Rui Chenggang, a former shareholder in Edelman's Pegasus China subsidiary.

Aarti Shah

Alan VanderMolen Exits Edelman After China Probe

NEW YORK — Edelman's former Asia-Pacific president Alan VanderMolen has left the agency several months after the Holmes Report revealed he was one of two senior Edelman executives with ties to the firm’s China operations who were put on leave earlier this year. 

“Alan VanderMolen has left the firm and we wish him well in his future endeavors," an Edelman spokesperson confirmed to the Holmes Report. The spokesperson also confirmed that Asia-Pacific CFO Philip Channon — the other exec reported as being on leave — had parted ways with the firm. 

Edelman began an internal investigation in July of last year, after CCTV anchor Rui Chenggang, who was previously a shareholder in the US firm's Pegasus China subsidiary, was detained by Chinese authorities. China's People's Daily newspaper suggested that Pegasus provided services to CCTV while Rui was a shareholder in the agency.

Two weeks later, we reported that the CEO of Edelman’s China holding company and co-founder of Pegasus, Steven Cao, was absent from work for more than a week as he cooperated with the official investigation by Chinese authorities. Cao ultimately resurfaced in October, and the firm confirmed that he had returned to his family, although it would not comment on whether he remained an Edelman employee.

While very little about the case is clear, it appears that Rui was embroiled in the anti-corruption case built against his former boss, CCTV’s financial news channel director Guo Zhenxi, who was arrested in June. After it emerged that Rui held a shareholding in Pegasus until 2010, there were questions about a possible conflict of interest, and Edelman has been cooperating with the investigation.

In a June interview with the Holmes Report in Cannes, Edelman CEO Richard Edelman said that his firm remained committed to China, and dismissed concerns that it could face further sanctions because of its issues in the country.

VanderMolen spent nine years in charge of Edelman Asia-Pacific after joining the agency in 2002, overseeing considerable growth. In 2011 he relocated from Hong Kong to Chicago and was, most recently, vice chairman at DJE Holdings. Channon has been Edelman's Asia-Pacific CFO since 1998. Chinese PR firm Pegasus was acquired by Edelman in 2007.

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