Fifa has placed controversial Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) finance manager, Tyril Patrick, in charge of the local football body ‘until the normalisation committee has been put in place’—a decision that has further heightened suspicions within the fraternity.
The governing football body belatedly informed the TTFA, via email today, that it has shut down its board and will install a normalisation committee for a period not exceeding 24 months. The normalisation committee, which would comprise of locals selected by Fifa, will double up as an electoral committee to oversee the local organisation’s next elections.
“In the interim and before the normalisation committee is fully operational, the TTFA administration’s management will be supervised by Mr Tyril Patrick, who will directly report to Fifa,” stated a missive by Fifa secretary general Fatma Samoura. “The TTFA administration—in its entirety—will therefore report to Mr Patrick until the normalisation committee has been put in place.”
It is a remarkable climb for an accountant who, less than two weeks ago, was the subject of a potential internal investigation for his role in the very financial mismanagement that Fifa supposedly stepped in to solve.
“[A joint Fifa-Concacaf] mission found that the overall condition of financial management and financial governance is extremely low or non-existent at the TTFA,” stated the Fifa release. “There are currently no formal internal policies and internal controls in place, such as procurement, delegation of financial authorities, financial planning and budgeting, effective oversight of funding and management reporting, which are necessary to meet the TTFA’s objectives.
“Moreover, there is also a lack of: documented policies and procedures, financial planning and management of statutory liabilities. Finally, there is no short or long-term plan to address the situation, which would require urgent, strong and efficient measures.
“[…] Another important finding is a potential liability on the TTFA for several years of unpaid payroll taxes to the government.”
As new TTFA finance committee chairman Kendall Tull told Wired868 yesterday, it was the new William Wallace-led football administration that pointed out those deficiencies to Fifa—rather than the other way around. And the local football body also raised several potential remedies which Wallace and Tull both felt had satisfied the foreign observers.
But, more to the point, Patrick is inextricably linked to every reason given by the governing body for its decision to shut down the TTFA’s board and effectively nullify last November’s election.
Patrick, who was hired by former president David John-Williams, was in charge of the TTFA’s financial apparatus when the local football body withheld NIS, PAYE and health surcharge payment from the relevant government bodies—despite the fact that deductions were made from employees’ salaries.
At a press conference on 4 March 2020, Wallace also alleged that Patrick admitted to issuing cheques, despite knowing that they would bounce. In all, Patrick issued 29 bounce cheques.
“[Patrick] said he was acting on instructions when I asked him why he issued the bounced cheques,” Wallace told the media.
In a TTFA board meeting, three days later, a motion was moved and passed for an investigation into all of the financial mismanagement done under the John-Williams administration.
The probe would have included spending at the controversial Home of Football project, which was part-funded by Fifa and directly supervised by Fifa director for Africa and the Caribbean, Veron Mosengo-Omba.
And what would they do about Patrick?
Board members were informed, by the TTFA’s new financial consultants, that Patrick might have committed a breach under the Companies Act by his alleged failure to abide by his fiduciary duties as finance manager. It was described as potential grounds for dismissal and the board was advised that Patrick ‘be investigated by the board and given the opportunity to speak’.
Another board member noted that it would be ‘difficult to investigate [the] incumbent [financial manager] while [he is] still sitting’.
In the end, the board instructed Wallace to get a legal letter done to suspend Patrick for the duration of the investigation into the body’s financial mismanagement.
Wallace, Wired868 understands, wanted to secure a replacement for Patrick before he served him notice and even suggested a handover period in which the soon-to-be-suspended finance manager tutored his replacement.
Four days later, Wallace had still not acted decisively; and then the Covid-19 pandemic hit Trinidad and the TTFA shut down its offices. So instead, Fifa acted first.
Ironically, Mosengo-Omba, in his role as Fifa chief member associations, wrote Patrick directly yesterday to inform him that he was now head of the TTFA. It meant the finance manager knew he was in charge of the local football body before Wallace was told he was out of a job.
“I am writing in relation to the decision of the Fifa Council that was sent to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) today,” stated Mosengo-Omba. “[…] As was mentioned in the decision, you will assume immediate interim responsibility, in collaboration with Fifa, for all TTFA matters until the normalisation committee members are appointed.
“Thank you in advance for your cooperation in this respect and looking forward to meeting you soon.”
Mosengo-Omba was directly implicated by at least two board members for refusing to investigate claims of financial mismanagement by John-Williams in the construction of the Home of Football and his running of the local football body as a whole.
Now, according to Fifa, an accountant who was due to be investigated for allegedly facilitating financial mismanagement could potentially be in charge of investigating himself, under their supervision—a probe that could directly or indirectly involve Fifa officials.
“A forensic audit of the TTFA accounts could be commissioned if deemed necessary by the relevant parties,” stated the Fifa general secretary. “We thank you for taking note of the above and trust in your full cooperation in this matter.”
Two years ago, then TTFA general secretary Justin Latapy-George told Wired868 that he was taken aback when his finance manager, Patrick, refused a direct order to attend a board meeting to face financial questions related to John-Williams’ tenure. Latapy-George claimed Patrick’s response was that John-Williams said he did not need to attend.
John-Williams subsequently told the board that Patrick was excused since he had submitted his resignation and was merely holding on for a replacement.
Almost three years later, Patrick is still there. And Fifa has now given him the authority of the entire TTFA board.
Wallace has retained attorneys Dr Emir Crowne and Matthew Gayle to challenge Fifa’s decision to dissolve the TTFA board.
“The current executive of the TTFA intends to challenge Fifa’s appointment of a normalisation committee to oversee the affairs of the association,” said Crowne, “and will seek whatever provisional measures are available to it to maintain the status quo until the matter is fairly adjudicated.”
(Fifa letter to TTFA general secretary Ramesh Ramdhan)
A joint Fifa-Concacaf mission has recently visited the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA). The joint mission’s objectives were to evaluate the current financial controls and processes in place at the TTFA, to assess the general financial position of the TTFA with regards to its frozen bank accounts and make suggestions for improvements where needed.
The mission found that the overall condition of financial management and financial governance is extremely low or non-existent at the TTFA. There are currently no formal internal policies and internal controls in place, such as procurement, delegation of financial authorities, financial planning and budgeting, effective oversight of funding and management reporting, which are necessary to meet the TTFA’s objectives.
Moreover, there is also a lack of: documented policies and procedures, financial planning and management of statutory liabilities. Finally, there is no short or long-term plan to address the situation, which would require urgent, strong and efficient measures.
Indeed, the combination of the above situation and an existing debt of at least US$5.5 means that the TTFA faces a very real risk of both insolvency and illiquidity if corrective measures are not applied urgently. Such a situation would, amongst other unwanted consequences, put Fifa’s development investments in the TTFA at risk of being seized by creditors. Another important finding is a potential liability on the TTFA for several years of unpaid payroll taxes to the government.
Under these serious circumstances, and in accordance with article 8 paragraph 2 of the Fifa statutes (which foresees that executive bodies of member associations may, under exceptional circumstances, be removed from office by the Fifa Council in consultation with the relevant confederation and replaced by a normalisation committee for a specific period of time), the Bureau of the Council decided, on 17 March 2020, to appoint a normalisation committee for the TTFA.
Its mandate includes the following tasks:
- to run the TTFA’s daily affairs;
- to establish a debt repayment plan that is implementable by the TTFA;
- to review and amend the TTFA Statutes (and other regulations where necessary) and to ensure their compliance with the FIFA Statutes and requirements before duly submitting them for approval to the TTFA Congress;
- to organise and to conduct elections of a new TTFA Executive Committee for a four-year mandate.
The normalisation committee will be composed of an adequate number of members to be appointed by the Fifa administration, in consultation with Concacaf. Although those eventually appointed for the normalisation committee will assume their duties with immediate effect, all members of the normalisation committee will have to pass an eligibility check to be carried out by the Fifa Review Committee in accordance with the Fifa Governance Regulations.
The confirmation of the appointment will be contingent upon the outcome of the eligibility check.
Furthermore, the Fifa administration, in consultation with Concacaf, reserves the right to revoke the mandate of any of the members of the normalisation committee and/or to appoint further members at any time.
The normalisation committee will act as an electoral committee whose decisions are final and binding, and none of its members will be eligible for any of the open positions in the TTFA elections under any circumstances, including in the event that their mandate as a member of the normalisation committee has been revoked or that they resign from their position.
The specified period of time during which the normalisation committee will perform its functions will expire as soon as it has fulfilled all of its assigned tasks, but no later than 24 months after its members have been officially appointed by the FIFA administration. The exact date for the normalisation committee to complete its mandate will be communicated by the Fifa administration once its members have been appointed.
In the interim and before the normalisation committee is fully operational, the TTFA administration’s management will be supervised by Mr Tyril Patrick, who will directly report to Fifa. The TTFA administration—in its entirety—will therefore report to Mr Patrick until the normalisation committee has been put in place.
Finally, a forensic audit of the TTFA accounts could be commissioned if deemed necessary by the relevant parties. We thank you for taking note of the above and trust in your full cooperation in this matter.