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Cricket Board audit-gate scandal

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Any columnist ought to have at the forefront of his or her aims and objectives, the notion to be as forthright as possible without misleading readers or being irresponsible.

Furthermore, it is my duty as an independent columnist to expose bad governance especially when it comes to a sport; this as I have been on both sides of the fence, as a player and as an administrator. Therefore, when I write critically, it is constructive criticism and meant to show the respective organisation, board or association a way to right their wrongs.

When I wrote about events in T&T cricket being synonymous with a non-stop movie, I ended by saying that we await the continuation of the 'movie'. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that we would have this complete ignominy of the T&T Cricket Board (TTCB) taking place by a sponsor in the National Gas Company (NGC).

It is a damning indictment when a sponsor has to confirm publicly the authenticity of their financial audit and suggest that they reserve the right to take action if necessary. Ouch!

The audit stated that 24 percent of funds advanced by the NGC were not spent in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). Approximately TT$3,000,000 was unilaterally transferred to other categories by the TTCB without the knowledge or approval of the NGC. Really?

The audit also cited two instances where information contained in published financial statements of 2014 and 2015 were incorrect as it related to NGC contribution and alleged duplication in the reporting of expenditure. Unbelievable!

I do not think I need to go further into the audit report by the NGC as it so damning and disappointing on the part of the TTCB.

When a company decides on sponsorship with an organisation, it is more than just a sponsorship. It becomes a partnership and the type of trust you put into the organisation not only with funds but in how they govern, decides whether you have made the right decision.

I can say without contradiction that when Carib was a sponsor of local cricket, prior to President Azim Bassarath-led administration, all our sponsorship monies were accounted for and if for some reason money was to be allocated differently, I would receive a phone call indicating same or asking if I would like the money reallocated in a different area. That is how you deal with sponsors.

Of note is that the NGC has ended its long-standing relationship with the TTCB, the latter of which cancelled its local 50-over Tournament as well as changing the three-day tournament to a two-day tournament this year.

Back to the ignominy; after the audit become public knowledge, it left some serious questions unanswered - if the audit was dated March 15, 2017, how come it only came to light in June 2018?

Did someone or some persons in the TTCB know about the report and were waiting on the right time to expose it? How come it was not dealt with at the level of the general council? Who in the TTCB knows how the funds from the NGC were used or misused? Were the levels of sponsorship by the NGC ever brought to the general council?

If this report was not bad enough, President Bassarath then stood up before the public at a news conference and questioned the authenticity of the NGC report, saying that there was nothing to discuss with the three Zonal Councils who had demanded a police investigation and an urgent meeting following the story breaking. Really?

Of course, it immediately brought a response from the president of NGC who confirmed the findings of the report and of particular note, confirmed that the findings of the audit report were shared with the TTCB. This brings forth an even more serious question.

Assuming that Darren Ganga attached a copy of the audit report in his letter to the TTCB as would be expected, did Bassarath deny the authenticity of a report which he knew to be true, in front of the entire nation?

The NGC as a corporate sponsor has pumped an estimated $13Million into the TTCB for the period 2014 to 2016. I would hope that the TTCB would have obtained other sponsors over this particular period so it begs the question, where has this money been allocated?

Has an audit been done into the allocation of any other sponsor's contributions? The TTCB is claiming they are broke. Unfortunately for them, they must inform the public as to where all this money has gone.

When this particular administration that called themselves the “Movement for Change” came into power in 2009, they were left with over $9Million and a minimum of eight corporate sponsors. It would be extremely interesting to ask the question of what this money was spent on in their first four years of governance.

Then from 2013 to 2016, it has been reported that the amount of money given to the TTCB was $13.5Million. Now two years later in 2018, they are apparently broke. One has to ask the question, where have the funds gone? Just show us. That is all T&T deserves to know at the very least.

It is unfortunate that some people do not accept the facts when they are put before them. When I wrote a few months ago about the TTCB asking Bassarath to put his house in order, I pointed out to him the golden era of T&T cricket from 2005 to 2009, not only from a playing perspective but from an administration level as there was a template for him to follow.

At the time, he served as first vice-president but we in the cricketing fraternity all know what played out and unfortunately, cricket has gone back into the dark ages.

It is another dark period in the annals of cricket in this country and all of the current executive of the TTCB should do the honourable thing and step down. It is my sincerest wish that all the clubs in this country get together and put who they feel will be able to take our cricket forward.

Please, I beg you, choose wisely as the future of T&T's cricket is firmly in your hands.


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