An extended investigation by accounting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) has revealed alleged collusion between former Sportt Company Director Imran Jan and current T&T Cricket Board president Azim Bassarath.
The forensic investigation examined dozens of unauthorised recordings between Jan, Bassarath, the then TTCB Chief Executive Officer, Suruj Ragoonath, and president of the Monroe Road Sports Club, Manohar Ramsaran.
More than 3,000 recordings were found on Jan’s company issued phone after he was terminated from the SporTT Company in November 2017. Project Barcelona is part of a broader investigation into procurement and expenditure irregularities at the SporTT Company which saw the termination of several more employees in July 2018.
The first key finding regarding the suspicious voice recordings was that Jan “appeared to have been attempting to influence the provision of SporTT funding to TTCB.” However, the report indicated that former chairman of the SporTT Company, Dinanath Ramnarine “was preventing the distribution of funding to TTCB.”
PWC’s report noted that Jan attempted to approve payments to the TTCB by signing approval documents “on three (3) separate occasions” for over quarter million dollars—a sum he did not have authority to approve. However, the payments never manufactured because it didn’t get the required approval from the then chairman.
In October 2017, Jan was appointed assistant coach of the T&T Red Force team. Text messages between Jan and Bassarath appear to suggest it was a reward for his efforts to influence funding to the TTCB. PWC’s report noted reference was made by Bassarath to moving Jan “to the front of the line.”
Speaking to Guardian Media Ltd on Tuesday, Bassarath defended Jan’s selection at the time, pointing to his experience with the Trinbago Knight Riders franchise team. He added, “I cannot recall putting his name in front…All decisions were made with the approval of the entire executive. Azim Bassarath cannot make any decision with respect to any favours or anything like that.” Jan’s appointment as an assistant coach, while he was still a director at the SporTT Company, could be a conflict of interest as well.
He also found himself under the microscope for leaking information. The report found that he appeared “to have shared SporTT documents with Bassarath which apparently stated how much was paid by SporTT to TTCB and seeking clarification on the same.” The unauthorised release of confidential SporTT information could be a breach of Section 99 of the Companies Act of 2013, subject to legal guidance.
Guardian Media Ltd tried several times reaching out to Jan for comment. He did not respond to our calls or text messages. However, Bassarath appeared to trivialise the issue, saying, “The only information I know Mr Jan shared with me, and I think he sent it via WhatsApp, was the allocation that was given to TTCB and other sporting organisations…If public funding is given to different sporting organisations, I don’t think that is confidential information… That is supposed to be for public information or public consumption.”
A PWC official confirmed the authenticity of the report we obtained. Attorney General Faris Al -Rawi did not confirm nor deny these reports as he would not comment on matters currently before the courts.
The news comes one week before the TTCB’s elections, which are due to take place on January 16.
The T&T Cricket Board (TTCB) claimed victory in the courts last month after a challenge from a group that included Ramnarine and Darren Ganga. The court ruled that outgoing members had the right to vote.
The election was scheduled to take place October 22, 2016, but had been deferred by consent of the parties pending the determination of the proceedings.