This Dec. 5, 2017, photo shows flags of Canada and China in Beijing. The CEO and the board of directions for the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation say they are stepping down because of recent politicization surrounding their work. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Fred Dufour, Pool Photo

CEO, board of Trudeau Foundation resign citing recent politicization of their work

The CEO and most members of the board of directors for the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation say they are stepping down because of the political climate that has recently surrounded their work.

In a statement posted on its website, the foundation says the politicization of a donation it received seven years ago has put a great deal of pressure on its management, volunteer board of directors and staff.

The resignations come after the Globe and Mail newspaper reported, citing unnamed sources, that Chinese billionaire Zhang Bin and another Chinese businessman, Niu Gensheng, donated $200,000 to the foundation in 2016.

The foundation, which describes itself as independent and non-partisan, said last month that it was returning the money because of a potential connection between the donation and the Chinese government.

Its statement today says three directors will stay with the organization on an interim basis to ensure it can continue to meet its obligations.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ended his relationship with the foundation named after his father before coming into power in 2015.