Attacks, 'personal threats': Why Deborah Benhayon resigned
UPDATE, 5pm: THE Lismore Chamber of Commerce and Industry's former president has revealed why she handed in her resignation today.
In a statement issued this afternoon, Deborah Benhayon said there was "sadness" in her decision to step down from the role.
"Despite receiving majority support of the board to continue my role as president, I have elected to step down due to the level of attacks aimed at the LCCI Chamber, its members and myself, (including personal threats) that have been unjustified," she said in the statement.
"With this pressure I have sought to deal with things in the best possible way that I was able to.
"Unfortunately, the 'noise' created has distracted from the Chamber's ability to get on with its job.
"As I hold both the Chamber and all of its members so dearly and with such high regard this is simply unacceptable.
"There are many in the community who know the unwavering commitment and energy I have dedicated to the Chamber to make it a more healthy, vibrant, inclusive organisation, and to a large extent have succeeded.
"For this I am both deeply grateful and indebted for all of the support I have received.
"It has been an absolute joy and honour to have had the opportunity to serve the business community in this role. I trust that my relationships with you all will continue to be enjoyed just in other capacities."
Ms Benhayon said the chamber had gone from "strength to strength" during her term as president.
"My focus has always been to 'promote Lismore as the regional business capital and a great place to live and work, establish and do business'," she said.
"The LCCI membership nearly doubled during my tenure even adding 17 new members in the last month and has enjoyed the benefits of the strong relationships that have been forged at Local, State and Federal government levels, with many other key stakeholder groups and businesses in voicing and advocating on their behalf."
Original story: A CHAMBER of commerce president linked to a "socially harmful cult" has stepped down.
Deborah Benhayon, who is the chief financial officer for Universal Medicine, had been Lismore Chamber of Commerce and Industry president.
The chamber board confirmed on Thursday it was discussing its future "the direction it will be going in the future".
In a statement, the board confirmed Ms Benhayon had resigned from her position as president.
Other unnamed board members have followed her in stepping down from their positions.
"Deborah Benhayon resigned from the board of Lismore Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Thursday, 25 October," the statement said.
"As a consequence, several other board members of LCCI also chose to resign.
"Ms Benhayon's decision to resign is unrelated to the recent NSW Supreme Court case."
The board said it would fill the vacancies on an interim basis.
"Working with the NSW Business Chamber, we will call an extraordinary annual general meeting of the Lismore Chamber of Commerce and Industry to elect a new board of directors and to fill the executive offices. Details will be sent to all LCCI members outlining the process of the election.
"We encourage members interested in serving our community on the LCCI board to nominate. We also encourage members to vote to ensure that we elect a board determined to advocate for our business community and to growing our local economy.'
The board said Ms Benhayon had undertaken "tireless work ...in advocating for the Lismore business community, and in particular, her efforts during the flood recovery in 2017".
"At this time, the board of Lismore Chamber of Commerce and Industry will decline in making any further comment," they said.
A NSW Supreme Court jury recently found her former husband and Universal Medicine leader Serge Benhayon to be a "charlatan", "dishonest", and that he had "intentionally indecently touched a number of his clients in his treatment room".
The same jury found Universal Medicine was a "socially harmful cult", which to Mr Benhayon's knowledge "engages in misleading conduct in promoting the healing services it offers".
These findings were part of the verdict in an unsuccessful defamation case brought by Mr Benhayon against former client, Esther Rockett.
The matter will return to court in December to resolve legal issues and costs.
Ms Benhayon has been approached for comment.