The findings of an audit into the finances of the Cayman Islands Football Association will not be made public, the association’s president Alfredo Whittaker has said.
Some of the conclusions of the forensic audit, performed by Grant Thornton, were relayed to CIFA’s members at its annual general meeting last month.
The report examined the association’s transactions, including suspicious loan agreements from private companies that were alleged to be bribe payments to the association’s former president Jeff Webb for his role in a wider football corruption scandal.
Mr. Whittaker said the auditors had given a presentation to CIFA’s membership but had advised that their report could not be released.
He said FIFA, the world game’s governing body, is satisfied with the findings of the investigation and will resume funding the game in Cayman. He said the association could be eligible to receive as much as $5 million in funding this year. Government also suspended funding to CIFA in 2015 amid concerns about the running of the organization following the FIFA corruption scandal. A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Sport said government had not had sight of the audit at this point. She did not respond to questions over whether government was considering resuming funding the association.
Mr. Whittaker acknowledged that the audit had identified concerns around some transactions.
“There were a number of things that came out in the audit, from loans to different transactions, the movement of money coming in and out. All of this was explained by Grant Thornton to the members at the AGM,” he said.
“They could account for a lot of stuff and there was stuff they couldn’t account for.”
Asked if the audit had revealed anything criminal, Mr. Whittaker said, “I wouldn’t say yes and I wouldn’t say no.”
He said those involved in the suspicious transactions were no longer part of the association. He added that FIFA would decide if CIFA should pursue legal action on the basis of the audit findings.
But he said the world governing body and regional body CONCACAF were satisfied with the current administration and were prepared to fund its programs.
“What one person or two persons did, that shouldn’t mean the whole football community should have to pay,” he said.
CIFA’s finances came under scrutiny following the arrest of Mr. Webb, who was also vice president of FIFA. He has admitted accepting bribes worth millions of dollars in connection with the sale of marketing rights for world football events and is awaiting sentencing in the U.S.
The Cayman Compass reported in 2015 that nearly $1 million in loans to the Cayman Islands Football Association from unnamed private companies were subsequently reassigned as sponsorship income in the association’s 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 2015.
A December 2015 lawsuit filed by CONCACAF in U.S. federal court later alleged that those loans to CIFA were bribe payments from two companies – Cartan Tours and Forward Sports – to Mr. Webb. That case was settled out of court.
Mr. Whittaker, who was elected president in November 2017, said that chapter in CIFA’s history had been closed and the association is moving on.
“It has been over for a long time. We have been moving on big time,” he said.
“I am satisfied with the outcome of the audit, FIFA is very satisfied, so we should start to see a big difference in the funding from FIFA towards the Cayman Islands.
“They are going to back-date us to catch us up, It is close to $5 million or more because we haven’t received any funding for close to four years.”
He said there was grant funding available from FIFA for infrastructure, player development, coaching and referees. Some of the funding would go to the Center of Excellence in Prospect for floodlights, bleachers and changing rooms, he said, while some would go to preparing the islands’ various national teams for competition. There are strings attached to the funding, and FIFA is likely to keep a close eye on how it is spent.
“There are a lot of forms that have to be filled out. There are a lot of regulations we have to follow to specify exactly where the money is going,” Mr. Whittaker added.