Thousands of dollars and equipment earmarked for football development in Barbados have reportedly been diverted to personal benefit, contrary to the dictates of football’s world governing body, FIFA.
And Barbados TODAY investigations have revealed that FIFA’s deputy secretary general Markus Kattner has mandated accounting firm KPMG to conduct a forensic probe into the financial affairs of the BFA. This spot check on the manner in which FIFA funds have been used is expected to commence very shortly.
It has also been confirmed that BFA president Randy Harris’ administration made an official report about certain financial irregularities it inherited in 2012 to the Fraud Department of the Royal Barbados Police Force which initiated its own investigation.
“We inherited a mess in several areas and we made an official report to the police last year,” a BFA source told Barbados TODAY, while adding that the organisation was $400,000 in the red despite significant monetary inflows from FIFA.
The source explained that every March FIFA gave member countries US$250 000 for developmental purposes and the BFA was one such recipient. He stated this sum was deposited in a special account and was supposed to be used specifically for BFA programmes aimed at the development of various aspects of domestic football.
He also revealed that after the 2010 FIFA World Cup the BFA got a bonus of about BDS$1 million. He explained that an initial inflow of $360,539 was received in 2010 and this was followed by $598,125 in March 2011.
“All of this money came into the BFA, yet we are $400,000 in the red and in debt to several local entities,” he lamented.
The source said the BFA owed the Red Cross $47,875; the Referees Association $50,050; Going Places Travel $24,000; National Sports Council $32,920; University of the West Indies $19,000, DHL $10,000; Kensington Oval $8,000; and the Royal Barbados Police Force $19,164 for officers who worked at football games. He added that these were just some of the entities to which the BFA was indebted.
The source also revealed that an advance of $60,000 was received by the BFA with $30,000 to go to women’s football and the remainder was for an IT component. He charged that approximately $35,000 of this ended up on the personal account of a BFA official rather than the BFA’s special account.
He produced documents showing where the funds were to purchase equipment from overseas but this had not been done initially and was only undertaken after the omission was red-flagged at the top administrative level.
However, documentation showed where only about $14,000 was used to purchase the equipment while the remainder of the money had not yet been returned to the BFA.
The source said there was an instance where an individual was paid $1,000 per day to conduct a BFA programme and another instance where a $12,000 claim was made simply for “office labour”.
But it did not end there, the source told Barbados TODAY. He said FIFA had temporarily pulled the financial plug on the GOAL project in Barbados in the wake of certain infelicities.
He explained that the project which entailed the construction of the artificial field at Wildey, St Michael in phase one and the subsequent construction of a two-storey building with facilities for players and administrative officials had been fully funded. He noted the project was to cost $1.236 million and of that figure FIFA gave $1 million and the BFA had to put the remainder.
He stated there had been a few issues at the location with the Barbados Cricket Association but explained that the main worry was that about $200,000 had been spent and the only thing basically to show for that large sum was the excavation of foundation for the building.
He added what was particularly disturbing was that a member of the BFA’s hierarchy had a company that was managing the project and this was tantamount to a conflict of interest. He noted that Town and Country Planning had also come into the picture as it appeared the project had been started without planning approval.
“But the point is, $200,000 is already gone for the little you can see done up there at Wildey,” he stressed.
The BFA source said there was also a situation where the association was supposed to have two vehicles but one had been claimed as personal property by a highly placed member of the organization. Revealing all the registration and purchase details on the vehicle in the possession of the individual, the source said it had been brought into Barbados via duty free concessions and was registered with Simpson Motors as a BFA vehicle.
“Yet the BFA has no access to it for BFA purposes,” he said.
The source added the BFA was without footballs and would have to buy them since the FIFA quota was not due until 2015. He said 500 balls donated by FIFA and which were supposed to last until the end of 2014 were all gone and in several instances could not be accounted for.
He also revealed there was a situation where a senior BFA official had obtained $3,500 for travel purposes to attend a FIFA conference in England but never showed up at the event, never produced a report on the substance of the FIFA event, and never repaid the BFA.
He said the same individual had annually obtained money, ostensibly for similar official overseas travel, but never attended any related FIFA events.
“We are now trying to streamline the financial aspects of the BFA. We have statements provided every month to encourage accountability and to make sure that money is used for the purposes it is intended – to develop our football and our infrastructure,” he said.
In stressing the importance of the Barbadian public being made aware of what had transpired at the BFA over the years, he revealed that Harris had already asked five members of the BFA’s council to resign.
“We cannot sit and say nothing about what has gone on before. To keep quiet would make us just as culpable as those responsible for the mess, some of whom are still on council,” he said, while expressing confidence that the BFA would still be able to meet its objectives for the current year.
When contacted Harris confirmed that Barbados had been selected by FIFA for an audit but added that with respect to the involvement of the police the BFA had made an initial report to the Fraud Department but the football equipment at the centre of the complaint was subsequently brought into the island and the BFA withdrew that specific complaint.
Efforts to reach Harris’ predecessor Ronald Jones were unsuccessful.
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