NATIONAL Gas Company (NGC) president Mark Loquan has confirmed the authenticity of the company’s financial audit of the TT Cricket Board (TTCB) and said the company “reserved the right” to take action if necessary.
Lawyers representing National League member Daren Ganga have accused the TTCB executive of concealing the initial findings of the audit, and are calling on the executive to “take responsibility.”
Ganga is also requesting an emergency board meeting to discuss the findings of the audit, and to hire an independent auditor to investigate them, now that concerns about the authenticity of the report have been debunked.
In a letter to Ganga’s attorney Priya Ramsahai on Wednesday, Loquan said the report, which was recently made public, was “a true copy of the internal audit report commissioned by NGC into its funding of the TTCB for the period 2014 to 2016.”
The financial audit by the NGC on the TTCB showed that 24 per cent of its sponsorship was not spent according to stipulation. The audit showed that between 2014 and 2016, $2,983,000 was spent without approval by the TTCB and not in accordance with the memorandum of understanding (MOU).
The NGC signed a MOU with the TTCB for three years in December, 2013 for $13.35 million. In 2016, owing to a reduction by the NGC, the total sponsorship was reduced to $12.46 million.
The audit showed that $25,000 was overpaid in 2014, and funds under-utilised were unilaterally reallocated by the TTCB. They amounted to $1,462,000 in 2014, $724,000 in 2015 and $797,000 in 2016.
On Wednesday, TTCB president Azim Bassarath questioned the authenticity of the report, while categorically denying funds were spent in a way not in accordance with the MOU.
Loquan provided a history of NGC’s sponsorship agreement and said the initial findings of the audit were communicated to the TTCB by the company.
He made it clear that the NGC did not wish to be involved in the current stand-off between Ganga and the TTCB, “but reserved the right to take such further action as it deemed necessary in order to protect its interest both in this matter and in relations to the findings as contained in its internal audit report.”
Ganga’s lawyer wrote to Bassarath on Friday, sending him a copy of Loquan’s letter and pointing out that the copy of the report given to him by Ganga was “a final report,” as confirmed by the NGC’s president.
“It is disconcerting that despite these egregious findings being shared with the executive by the NGC, we are instructed that the executive of the TTCB concealed same from the entire board of the TTCB which is indicative of a lack of transparency and accountability.”
Ramsahai also asked Bassarath, given that the NGC’s audit focused on management of the gas company’s funds, “what other matters of financial impropriety have not yet been discovered and/or unearthed as it relates to other sponsors and sources.”
She added, “Specifically, the various instances of overstating and understating of funds in the audited financial statements give no comfort in the overarching desire to have a transparent and accountable cricket board whose conduct is beyond reproach.”
Earlier this week, three zonal chairmen of the TTCB asked for a copy of the audited report to be sent to the police. They also asked for an emergency meeting to address the matter.
Bassarath, on Wednesday, said an audit that may not be legitimate does not need to be discussed and instead called for a probe into how Ganga obtained a copy.
He also said despite the alleged mismanagement of funds circulating in the media, NGC is happy with its returns on investment in local cricket. Ganga has been questioning the running of the TTCB for years.