Unnamed companies gifted almost $1M to CIFA

Unnamed companies gifted almost $1M to CIFA

Almost $1 million in loans from unnamed private companies have been re-assigned as sponsorship income in the Cayman Islands Football Association’s 2013/14 accounts. 

Notes on the accounts, which were not signed off by auditors to be officially presented at the association’s annual general meeting, indicate the loans were made by two unnamed “private companies” and were actually intended as sponsorship for the construction of the National Training Center. The 2012/13 accounts said the unsecured loans originated from two “strategic partners” of the association. 

After the change in the 2013/14 accounts, the non-cash transaction increased the net assets of the organization’s balance sheet by the same amount. 

The training center, in Prospect, which currently comprises a small office building and one AstroTurf field which is in the process of being laid, has also so far received US$1.88 million out of an allocated US$2.2 million in five separate donations from FIFA through its GOAL project, according to the football world governing body’s website. 

The land for the center was donated by government on a long-term “peppercorn lease.” 

According to FIFA’s regulations for GOAL projects, it pays contractors directly, rather than routing funds through member associations. 

CIFA leaders have previously said the cost of de-mucking and filling the swampy, low-lying property had made transforming it into a football center an expensive proposition. 

Bruce Blake, the acting president of the organization, has told the Cayman Compass that the association followed a clear set of rules and regulations, outlined by FIFA for its GOAL-project-funded developments, in its handling of the training center project. 

He did not respond this week to requests to clarify the total expenditure on the project or to questions about the sponsorship payments outlined in the accounts. 

The notes to the financial statements, which were released to attendees as part of the agenda papers for the annual general meeting, indicate that the payments were booked in previous financial statements as “unsecured loans” totaling $983,000 from two strategic partners. 

The notes add, “However, as of Dec. 31, 2014 it has been confirmed that the unsecured loans were intended as sponsorship for the construction of the National Training Center. Accordingly, as of Dec. 31, 2014 the association has recorded a non-cash settlement of the unsecured loans to properly reflect the transaction.” 

It emerged last week that the association is facing the prospect of an Anti-Corruption Commission inquiry after suspicious transactions were flagged by its auditors. No details have been given on which aspects of the accounts are being investigated. 

Speaking outside the Marriott hotel after the association’s annual general meeting on Saturday, Mr. Blake said the association would cooperate with any investigation. 

He acknowledged that the accounts were not ready to be presented at the meeting and a special congress would have to be called to approve them once the outstanding issues were dealt with. 

The statements, sent out ahead of Saturday’s meeting, are unsigned and include a cover letter from audit firm Rankin Berkower indicating that the audit will be completed “after receipt of outstanding third party confirmations and other documentation from the association.” 

Police Commissioner David Baines, who chairs the Anti-Corruption Commission, said the commission had already been looking into some of the individuals previously involved with CIFA, including Jeffrey Webb, as part of the investigation into Health Services Authority contracts. 

Of the CIFA issue, he said, “It features as part of an investigation, which is separate to the primary Health Services Authority investigation currently before the court. 

“There is a crossover because the same individuals relate to that and you have then got the international FBI investigation and some of it crosses over again. 

“It is a multi-layered investigation that involves HSA-specific contract issues, that includes some of the same people that are also involved in the CIFA issue and some of those involved in the CIFA issue are also included in the FIFA issue. 

“With all of those, it is about identifying the jurisdiction, best evidence and who is best placed to investigate and take it forward.”

For the Cayman Compass’s full FIFA coverage, visit the Compass Data Desk.

Work continues Thursday at the Cayman Islands Football Association’s Center of Excellence. - PHOTO: TANEOS RAMSAY
Work continues Thursday at the Cayman Islands Football Association’s Center of Excellence. – PHOTO: TANEOS RAMSAY