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Sancho and Harrison allegedly requested improper payment for Central transfers

Sport Minister Brent Sancho and his advisor Kevin Harrison’s relationship with Central FC has again been called into question, after a leaked document suggested that the pair may have tried to personally benefit from a transfer deal last year.

Photo: Sport Minister Brent Sancho (second from right) is flanked by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (right) and former World Cup 2006 star Stern John during the opening of the Irwin Park Sporting Complex in Siparia. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Sport Minister Brent Sancho (second from right) is flanked by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (right) and former World Cup 2006 star Stern John during the opening of the Irwin Park Sporting Complex in Siparia. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

An email, allegedly sent by Harrison in August 2014, appeared to show the club employee requesting a private payment for himself and Sancho while discussing the financial details related to a move of four Trinidad and Tobago players to Belgium lower division club, CS Visé.

Although Sancho and Harrison were founders of the Couva-based football club, there is no available evidence that they were ever more than employees with the “Couva Sharks.” Harrison, who is the current advisor to the Sport Minister, was operations director at Central while Sancho was chairman.

Harrison, a British national, told Wired868 on Wednesday that it was SIS directors, rather than Sancho and himself, who owned the Couva-based football club.

“It belongs to the directors who are SIS employees,” said Harrison, who is employed as an advisor to the Sport Minister. “The bulk of the sponsorship and funding comes from SIS…”

However, a report in last week’s Guardian newspaper described Harrison as a “co-owner” of Central. Sancho also suggested he was a club owner, arguably as a means of deflecting criticism for a payment due to the Sharks that ended up in his bank account.

Photo: SWO member and then Central FC operations director Kevin Harrison (right) presents a $12,000 cheque to Dion Sosa, the local manager for then ailing player Akeem Adams. Adams died on 30 December 2013 after failing to recover from a heart attack. (Courtesy Allan V. Crane/Wired868)
Photo: SWO member and then Central FC operations director Kevin Harrison (right) presents a $12,000 cheque to Dion Sosa, the local manager for then ailing player Akeem Adams.
Adams died on 30 December 2013 after failing to recover from a heart attack.
(Courtesy Allan V. Crane/Wired868)

Wired868 reported exclusively that, four months after Sancho’s appointment as Sport Minister, Harrison directed CONCACAF to deposit a US$40,000 payment into the personal bank account of the current UNC Toco-Sangre Grande candidate.

Harrison, Sancho and the SIS-run club claimed the payment was done in error but have been unable to adequately address the chronological order of the wire transfer.

Sancho was made Sport Minister in February 2015 and it was not until May 2015 that Central qualified for the CONCACAF Champions League. The request for the club’s bank details came within a week of its qualification and the deadline for a response was between 28 May and 12 June 2015.

Wired868 can reveal that, according to documents lodged with the Ministry of Legal Affairs, neither Sancho nor Harrison are listed as directors or shareholders at Central FC.

Instead, SIS officials Daren Mohamdally and Ronald Ramlogan are listed as directors of the football club, which was registered as Central United FC Limited on 21 August 2012, under the Companies Act. Ramlogan was also named as the company’s secretary.

Central FC has never filed annual returns.

Photo: Central FC celebrate with the 2015 Digicel Pro League trophy after their 4-1 win over Caledonia AIA. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Central FC celebrate with the 2015 Digicel Pro League trophy after their 4-1 win over Caledonia AIA.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Neither Sancho nor Harrison responded to Wired868 requests for clarification on their supposed stakes at Central in light of documentation received by Legal Affairs.

More shocking was an email that appeared to be sent from Harrison’s email address to a Visé official, which requested an “agreed personal payment” for Sancho and himself during transfer negotiations for local players.

The email mentioned Central players Willis Plaza, Rundell Winchester and Elton John as well as Kevon Villaroel, who all moved to the Belgium club in August 2014.

Visé was also directed to send the transfer money to the pair via Western Union rather than to Central’s bank account.

“Brent said that you cannot send the first payment as well as the agreed personal payment,” stated the email from kh.centralfc@gmail.com. “I think we agreed that the second payment will be in January and the third in May. It’s no problem, but could you indicate when you would be able to slip in the personal payment?

“Probably the best payment method would be via Western Union (obviously the fees would be deducted from the initial sum). If possible, send two payments, 50% to Brent Sancho and 50% to Kevin Harrison.”

Photo: Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (left) has a word with Sport Minister Brent Sancho during the opening of the Irwin Park Sporting Complex in Siparia on August 26. Wired868 published an article on the same day, which revealed that CONCACAF was directed to send money due to Central FC to Sancho's personal bank account.  (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (left) has a word with Sport Minister Brent Sancho during the opening of the Irwin Park Sporting Complex in Siparia on August 26.
Wired868 published an article on the same day, which revealed that CONCACAF was directed to send money due to Central FC to Sancho’s personal bank account.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Plaza, John and Villaroel were all free agents so the money was believed to be for Winchester’s move.

An informed source claimed that Visé was asked to pay US$15,000 to the Pro League club and US$5,000 as a personal payment. However, that figure could not be confirmed.

Former Central FC coach Terry Fenwick was Visé coach at the time, although there is no suggestion that he was involved in the deal or had any role in transfer deals for either club.

The Visé official directed to make the payment was allegedly Sancho’s agent during his playing career in Britain. However, there is no evidence that Harrison and Sancho were ever paid, as the Belgium team quickly landed in financial hot water.

A request for a secret payment to help facilitate a transfer, which is referred to as a “bung” in British football, is illegal and might have exposed either club to FIFA sanctions. According to FIFA’s Regulations on the status and transfer of players, clubs in breach of its transfer code could be punished with anything from a reprimand or fine to a transfer ban or demotion.

Photo: Central FC forward Rundell Winchester (far right) is congratulated by teammates (from left) Jason Marcano, Jamal Jack and Keion Goodridge during a previous Pro League contest. At present, Winchester is on loan to the reserve team of MLS franchise, Portland Timbers. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Central FC forward Rundell Winchester (far right) is congratulated by teammates (from left) Jason Marcano, Jamal Jack and Keion Goodridge during a previous Pro League contest.
At present, Winchester is on loan to the reserve team of MLS franchise, Portland Timbers.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

The email from kh.centralfc@gmail.com sought to explain why Visé should send a transfer payment through Western Union rather than to the club’s bank account.

“This makes it a lot easier than through the bank as, in my experience, bank transfers to Trinidad aren’t liked by European banks (something to do with sort codes, if I recall correctly),” stated the correspondence from Harrison’s email address.

The Belgium club imploded financially and Fenwick and the four players were soon back in Trinidad.

Winchester, who is 21, was subsequently sent on loan to United States second tier club, Portland Timbers B. It is uncertain whether any payments were made for the player and, if so, where the money ended up.

Wired868 asked Sancho and Harrison to explain the request for a “personal payment” and why the entire transfer figure negotiated was not directed to Central FC’s bank account.

Photo: Central FC goal scorer Jean-Luc Rochford (front) and his teammates celebrate with the 2015 Caribbean Club Championship trophy. Looking on is then Central FC operations director Kevin Harrison (top left). (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Central FC goal scorer Jean-Luc Rochford (front) and his teammates celebrate with the 2015 Caribbean Club Championship trophy.
Looking on is then Central FC operations director Kevin Harrison (top left).
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Neither responded by the time of publication.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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68 comments

  1. Somebody send this to the permanent secretary please..just in case

  2. Rules are rules, are rules… for all and especially for the “Priest” and Pastor” who will be held more responsibly because of their positions and stations in society.

  3. So if SIS is really the owners of the club they trying to tell us a big company like SIS dont have a us account.

  4. Ad THIS people is WHY i am voting PP …

    you think if, Sancho was PNM , that people like Lasana would care to investigate or publish anything like this ?

    Lasana would be doing everything in his power to “cover it up” , is Sancho was PNM …

    Keep doing the good job Lasana ..

    as long as the PP is in power, I am glad you will be doing the people’s work

    • “AS long as the PP is in power…” Well, mister, doh take it too hard but, with luck, that long rope running out in exactly one week’s time…

      • as soon as the PNM is in power..

        you would not care how much the PNM ministers steal….

        and that is why I am voting PP …

        so that people like you will work hard to expose corruption …

        a vote for PNM ,, is a vote for people like you to go the opposite way and hide corruption ….

        why the hell would I vote for you to hide corruption ?

    • Scotty Ranking

      I feel sorry for you and your myopic view of life. Before Sanko entered politics, he was the recipient of our ardent support in his quest to receive the monies promised by Jack Warner during the 2006 World Cup campaign.
      His recent actions suggest that he is equally as crooked as the system/regime he battled against. And in the process has allowed people like Tim Kee Kee Kee and Fillups to be able to take the ‘moral’ high ground when they couldn’t even climb a moral ant hill!
      That is why we hound him! Had he been of another political persuasion, he would have the same jamming to face. This isn’t about UNC/PNM business; this is about walking the walk after having talked the talk. And Sanko has failed badly in this regard.
      The fact that his shenanigans seem par for the course for his political affiliates bears relevance but isn’t the reason for our collective outrage.