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TTFF marketing director: Roberts misled Parliament about football finances
Anthony Harford, T&T Football Federation marketing director, says Minister of Sport Anil Roberts misled the Parliament and the public about the current financial state of the local football federation in his contribution to the 2012/2013 budget debate on Friday.
Roberts said more than $6.4 million in financial discrepancies had been unearthed by the Auditor General in the accounts managed by the Authorisation Committee of the T&T Football Federation (T&TFF) under the chairmanship of Harford, and despite several letters written by Permanent Secretary of the Sport Ministry Ashwin Creed to Harford, many of the questions surrounding the multimillion dollar discrepancies remained unanswered.
The Sport Minister said during the failed qualification by the Soca Warriors for the 2014 Brazil FIFA World Cup, the authorisation committee of the local football federation was provided with $11 million by the Ministry of Sport and to date close to half of those funds still remained unaccounted for.
According to Roberts, the discrepancies uncovered by the Auditor General were the unanswered expenditure of over $5.3 million and an unexplained difference of over $129,000 while an incomplete financial statement had been submitted for the sum of $11 million. A financial statement totalling $5,611,933.25 million was submitted creating a statement of expenditure difference of $5,388,066.75 which is yet to be submitted by your organisation,” Roberts said as he read the letter.
“On the statement of expenses of the amount allocated to the T&TFF coaching staff, officials, players’ salaries, match fees was listed as $2,579,000. However, the amount reflected on the statement attached is $2,449,000—as such there is an unexplained difference of $129,970,” Roberts read. The Auditor General also discovered that Harford paid himself over $900,000, Roberts said.
“When the Auditor General went through the statement it was seen that Mr Anthony Harford is the director of All Sport Promotions and Mr Anthony Harford as head of the authorisation committee of the TTFF marketing when given $11 million of taxpayers’ money, he went on to pay himself from himself to All Sport Promotions the sum of $936,250 for promotions he paid himself to himself,” Roberts said.
However, in response Harford, a well-known sports administrator, said Roberts was aware that All Sport Promotion, the company which Harfords heads, accepted the task of stabilising and restoring football to an acceptable level on the basis of a fee.
“The company advised the T&T Football Federation that its standard fee is 15 per cent of budget, which in the case of the World Cup campaign and other activities was $14 million but the T&TFF advised that it was not in a position to pay the 15 per cent which was just over $2 million and asked for a reduction which was finally agreed to be $1 million. This fee had to include
• Management of all matches
• All office expense including driver/messenger/ executive assistant/telephone all meeting costs/office space rental, vehicle usage, and the attendance to all negotiation meetings and liaison with Government and the bank
• This was included in the letter of appointment to All Sport, so everyone involved was aware
•The figure included VAT which meant that the fee for entire contract was in fact $870,00 for a one year period.
With regards to submitting of accounts to the ministry, Harford said, “All Sports included all payments made to the company in the accounts presented to the ministry as the fee was well below the market value in professional sport.”
He added: “The second item the Minister misled the Parliament and the public is in the area of accounting.
“The ministry received interim accounts on October 31 (2011) for $5.6 million spent to that date on the 2014 World Cup campaign and was then handed the final accounts for the World Cup on January 16 (2012), which was for the full allocation of $11 million.
“We then asked the ministry to advise within two weeks of any discrepancies so it can be adjusted before going to final audit, but the ministry never responded until September 12, and then is claiming we only accounted for $5.6 million and that there was a discrepancy of $129,700.”
Harford said: “We submitted the full accounts again just four days later, explaining the ministry may have misplaced the accounts and confirming all matters had been dealt with. “But the minister in his presentation indicated he was waiting for an explanation from All Sport. We state categorically we have received no such request since the submission of the accounts.
“The T&TFF today (Friday) showed us two letters from the ministry ostensibly sent to All Sport on October 1 and 3, but we have not received these letters. Still we have sent an e-mail to the permanent secretary in the ministry advising we will provide all he requires early next week.”
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