Senior lawyer says regional leaders behind calls for forensic audit
Legal counsel for the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), Anthony Astaphan, has suggested that some regional leaders are the real voices behind the recent call for a forensic audit into the WICB’s finances.
Speaking Thursday in his Dominica homeland, Astaphan said the veiled hint of impropriety by six former WICB members was hard to imagine since it came from individuals who would have had past knowledge of WICB’s practices, especially as it related to the auditing of its accounts by reputable firms.
“The reason why the West Indies Cricket Board is seriously aggravated by this outburst, is the fact that the board has both internal and external auditors and they are not the same firm,” Astaphan pointed out.
“And significant amount of monies are being paid for the various auditing being done by these firms and for these allegations to be made by [former] officials of the West Indies Cricket Board who know and must know . . 02. of the forensic safeguards and accounting safeguards that are in place at the West Indies Cricket Board, these things are just shocking.
“You get the impression these fellas are dancing to the tune being sung by some prime minister or somebody else, I don’t know. You don’t expect these sort of statements from men like that.”
In a news article carried recently on noted cricket website, ESPNCricinfo, former WICB president Ken Gordon, said a forensic audit of the board was required in order to “lift the clouded veil which now surrounds that body”.
Ex-WICB corporate secretary, Tony Deyal, also agreed with Gordon’s call while another former president, Jamaican Pat Rousseau, urged regional governments to ensure that all sporting associations were “under an obligation to observe good governance principles and to protect the finances of the association.”
Charles Wilkin, a former chairman of the WICB’s governance committee, former WICB chief executive officer Bruce Aanensen and Imran Khan, former WICB communications officer, were the others casting doubt on the board’s operations.
The WICB said yesterday the calls for a forensic audit were “without any basis in fact” and could be interpreted as a “suggestion of wrong doing and misappropriation of WICB funds by present members of the WICB”.
Astaphan, to whom the WICB referred the matter, said current officials of the board were “extremely upset” by the inferences that could be drawn.
“The West Indies Cricket Board president and management and a number of the other directors that I’ve spoken to are extremely upset at the allegations and the thing contained in this call for the forensic audit,” Astaphan said.
“It carries the implication or the implied allegation or the innuendo or this thing of some sort of misconduct or skullduggery or the possible misuse of West Indies Cricket Board funds for personal use.”
The veteran lawyer added: “And I think it is regrettable these statements were made because when you read the article on ESPNCricinfo, it seems to me as if this call is being triggered by the fact that the West Indies board did not roll over and play dead with the CARICOM subcommittee’s recommendation [and] submitted recommendations of their own in a report of their own.
“I think it is regrettable this thing is becoming politicized, is taking on an emotional context and rollercoaster that is difficult to understand.”
Astaphan said he would execute the board’s wishes to see if legal action could be taken over the statements by the former officials.
“I intend to look at it very carefully to see whether there is any basis for any form of legal action and what the options of the board are.”
Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell and Vincentian leader Dr Ralph Gonsalves have been scathing in their condemnation of the Dave Cameron-led WICB and at the forefront of calls for its dissolution.
However, CARICOM is divided on the issue with Antigua Prime Minister Gaston Browne stating in June that he would categorically reject the CARICOM’s call for dissolving the WICB.
The International Cricket Council has previously taken a dim view of political interference in the administration of cricket.