The Cayman Islands Football Association announced Thursday that it has appointed Grant Thornton as an independent auditor following a competitive tender process approved by FIFA.
Grant Thornton will undertake a forensic and financial statement audit of CIFA transactions and activity from inception and will conclude the annual audits from 2014 to 2016.
The Cayman Compass reported in 2015 that nearly $1 million in loans from unnamed private companies were subsequently reassigned as sponsorship income in CIFA’s 2013/2014 accounts.
The loans were purportedly designed to aid in the construction of a National Training Center in Prospect, and the 2012/13 accounts said they originated from two “strategic partners” of the association. CIFA’s previous auditors, Rankin Berkower, flagged suspicious transactions in September of 2015, spurring a police investigation.
A December 2015 lawsuit filed in U.S. federal court described those loans to CIFA as “graft,” alleging that two companies – Cartan Tours and Forward Sports – paid that money as bribe payments to former CIFA President Jeffrey Webb in order to win a lucrative business arrangement with CONCACAF, world football’s regional governing body for the Caribbean, North and Central America.
CONCACAF sued Cartan for a minimum of US$50 million in damages over an unnecessary contract granted to Cartan and two of its principals, David G. Elmore and Daniel L. Gamba.
The lawsuit referenced CIFA’s 2015 audits and the pair of loans from Cartan Tours and Forward Sports – totaling US$1.2 million – that had been converted to gifts as evidence of wrongdoing.
“Cartan never provided any material amount of services to CIFA, nor did Cartan widely publicize its fictitious charitable gift – which is what typically would be expected of a corporate sponsor,” the lawsuit alleges. “That is because it was not a gift at all, but yet another form of graft and illicit dealing between [the lawsuit defendants] and Webb.”
That lawsuit was subsequently settled out of court in 2016 without any money changing hands between the two parties, and CONCACAF severed its business relationship with Cartan.
All of that will be in Grant Thornton’s purview as independent auditor.
Lee Ramoon, president of CIFA, said in a statement, “I would like to thank Grant Thornton for their high professional standards demonstrated.”
He added, “We look forward to working with them to complete the forensic and financial statements audits of CIFA and to provide our membership and other stakeholders with a complete accounting of all funds received by CIFA over the years.”