SINGAPORE — APCO senior regional director James Yi is leaving the firm, PRovoke Media can reveal, after concealing his marriage to the firm's Southeast Asia managing director, JJ Lee. 

APCO global CEO Brad Staples told PRovoke Media that Yi departs following "a review of an internal relationship which was not previously disclosed to the firm’s global leadership." 

"After consultation and discussion, James Yi indicated that he will be leaving the company and his role as regional senior director of market development," added Staples in a statement, which further noted that internal relationships are not prohibited at APCO, but must be disclosed to senior management. 

It is understood that a whistleblower alerted APCO's global leadership last month regarding Yi and Lee's relationship. Following meetings in Singapore, Yi submitted his resignation on 23 August, after five years with the firm

Yi married Lee in 2019, the same year in which Lee arrived at APCO from WE Communications. Since then, Lee was promoted to chief client officer and deputy MD, before ultimately becoming Southeast Asia MD last year. In her current role, she succeeded Yi, who was named regional senior director for market development, overseeing Southeast Asia, Korea & Australasia. 

APCO's statement reiterates that the firm "closely and regularly assesses each situation and local dynamics to ensure that the merit-based approach to running the business is not undermined."

"The evolution of working relationships sometimes leads to colleagues forming close friendships and personal bonds; recognizing this, APCO has always maintained policies and structures to ensure a merit-based culture and openness that underpins APCO’s way of working," continued Staples in the statement.

"Disclosing personal relationships to senior management at the first instance is one of the basic requirements. This transparency ensures all parties can be adequately protected while maintaining the integrity of, and trust in, the management structure. Internal relationships are not against APCO’s policies; however, their non-disclosure prevents appropriate safeguards from being employed as needed."

Lee remains in place as the firm's Southeast Asia MD, overseeing operations in Singapore, Bangkok, Jakarta and Hanoi, which have grown substantially in recent years. Prior to joining WE Singapore in 2016, she worked in public affairs in the US.
Yi, meanhile, held senior roles at GlobalHealthPR, Burson-Marsteller Korea and Ogilvy PR, before being hired by APCO in 2018.