CAF’s million-dollar gravy train

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By Robson Sharuko
THE Confederation of African Football splashed about US$27 million into the coffers of their member associations, over the last four years, without any mechanism to follow up on how the developmental funds were ultimately used.

That translates to about US$500 000 per member association, which the CAF leaders dished out, which was meant for football development across the continent.

Interestingly, they didn’t follow up to see whether the funds were used for their intended purposes.

The CAF leaders didn’t even have procedures to identify the signatories, and beneficial owners of the accounts, they were pumping in the money.

Three payments, totalling US$300 375 meant for the Liberia Football Association, ended up in mysterious third-party bank accounts in Estonia and Poland.

Although that money was traced, with CAF claiming it had been sent to the wrong accounts by mistake, the funds have not yet been recovered by the continent’s football governing body.

Five payments, totalling US$500 625 sent by CAF into other third-party accounts, were rejected by the beneficiary banks. The organisation claims they were credited back into their accounts but they could not provide any documentation to prove that, indeed, the money ended in their accounts.

Cumulatively, CAF poured US$112m into its member associations, made up of annual development grants, inter-club and continental tournaments’ prize money, solidarity and other ad-hoc payments to organise matches/events. That was between July 2015 and August 15 2019 and there were 557 payments related to those payments. An investigation into US$10 million of FIFA development funds for Africa, split in 40 payments between 2015 and 2018, were also looked into by the auditors, PricewaterhouseCoopers.

They found out that US$4,6 million from 14 payments had “no or insufficient supporting documentation to determine the beneficiary, purpose, and benefit for CAF”.

The auditors’ conclusion was that they could not find the purpose of the payment, the ultimate beneficiary or evidence the money had been received in some cases.

A further US$3,6 million, in 21 payments, was “considered unusual or deemed higher risk.’’

Just five payments, which amounted to US$1,6 million — representing just 16 percent of the amount — of those scrutinised had “sufficient documentation” and were said to have been used for the purpose intended.

CAF executive members were also flagged by the auditors for receiving a raft of gifts, donations and even a cash handout to cover a funeral from the continental football governing body.

An additional US$20 000 a year was paid specifically for use by the presidents of the member associations to cover their losses for the work they do leading their domestic organisations.

CAF president Ahmad Ahmad, who claimed he would not receive a salary from the organisation when he came into power three years ago, has been earning US$40 000 per month giving him more than US$2,8 million in salary. An investigation by the BBC in July 2019 also revealed Ahmad received two sets of payments for expenses, which painted a picture he was in two different countries at the same time, during the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia.

Documents showed Ahmad collected US$18 450 from CAF for a 41-day stay in Russia between June 7 and July 17 while he also collected US$4 050 from the organisation for a nine-day period, between 23 June and 1 July, which came under the heading ‘‘Visit to CAF Bureau’’.

Ahmad was also part of a religious pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, where a number of the CAF leaders went, which ended up costing the organisation about US$100 000. “CAF stated that the cost of travelling of 18 people between their home countries to Egypt was booked as ‘official expense’ towards organising a meeting at Egypt and the cost of travelling between Egypt and Saudi Arabia was taken by CAF’s president personally,” the report said.

“However, CAF could not provide any documents to support that an official meeting was organised in Egypt during this time. It is to be noted that the presumed costs of travel between Egypt and Saudi Arabia is in the range of US$20 000–US$30 000 higher than the actual reimbursement made by CAF’s president.”

The PwC audit was done between September and October 2019 and involved key areas of ‘‘CAF’s financials and operations with a consideration of whether any financial misconducts, conflict of interests and circumvention of relevant policies may have occurred during that period’’.

It covered the periods 2015 to 2019, which represented the end of Issa Hayatou’s era and the arrival of Ahmad as the CAF president, and the auditors reported that:

For the review, no accounting data was available for FY 2015 due to incomplete migration of accounting data from legacy records to JD Edwards accounting system. For FY 2019, accounting entries were not updated in JD Edwards for the period January-June 2019. The journal entry reviews and certain standard forensic analysis were not completed for these periods where data was not provided.

The accounting records of CAF are unreliable and not trustworthy due to several manual adjustments in JD Edwards without narration and supporting documents. Due to this situation, PwC cannot rule out any potential fraudulent adjustments/postings to JD Edwards accounting system prior to and/during the review potentially causing misstatements of CAF’s financials.

Based upon the procedures and documents reviewed, several red flags, potential elements of mismanagement and possible abuse of power were found in key areas of finance and operations of CAF. Given the serious nature of certain findings and red flags, identified from the preliminary due-diligence, we cannot rule out the possibility of potential irregularities.

CAF provides subventions (development funds) to each of the 54 African Member Associations. During the review period 2015-2019, CAF paid a total of US$27m as subventions to Mas.

It appears that CAF did not have sufficient oversight over the utilisation of the subventions by the Mas. Specifically, CAF has not defined any regulation for the utilisation of the subventions and do not have reporting requirements from the Mas regarding the full utilisation and programme achievements. Notably, CAF did not define any procedure around the utilisation of the US$20 000 grant to the presidents of the Mas.

During the review, it was observed that CAF does not perform adequate due diligence of bank account details from the Mas for remitting the subventions. Specifically, CAF do not have the procedures in place to identify the signatories and beneficial owner of the bank account where they credit subventions.

Bank statements of CAF show three payments totalling US$300 375 made during August 2017 to May 2018 by CAF from its Credit Agricole Bank account which was supposed to be subvention payments for the benefit of Liberia Football Association was paid into unidentified third-party accounts in Estonia and Poland. In July 2018, LFA and CAF discovered that the payments were made to the wrong accounts, however, to date, the funds have not been recovered.

A reconciliation of bank statements with the FY 2018 accounting records relating to payments to the MAs identified five unaccounted payments for a total value of US$500 625. CAF claim that five payments were returned to CAF’s account die to the reason the beneficiary banks did not accept the payments. However, CAF was not in a position to provide any SWIFT/Bank confirmation, or documentation, to demonstrate that the amounts were credited back to CAF accounts. – The Herald.

 

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