17 May

In a major embarrassment for the Cricket West-Indies (CWI), one of the Caribbean cricketing greats Michael Holding has begun a process of exposing the financial mismanagement in the board. The former fast bowling great exposed the board by reading content from the ‘leaked audit report’ and questioned CWI on its questionable financial decisions.

Speaking in a youtube post on Friday with Asif Khan, Holding criticised the CWI President Ricky Skerrit and his board for failing to make public the findings of a damning 60 page audit, ordered by the current board and received by them in back in January of this year.

Holding said there were many issues highlighted by the auditors in their report to the CWI board which ‘dropped into my email inbox’, but decided to highlight three in the short youtube broadcast.

1. Sponsor funds

CWI received funds of US$134,200 from a sponsor on or about August 8, 2018, on behalf of the Dominica Cricket Association (DCA). The money was received from a third party, which appeared to be an offshore corporation, Holding explained. The auditors, Holding said, wrote that it was unclear why the funds did not go directly to the DCA.

However, the auditors, according to Holding, said the money was paid over to the DCA in three tranches; US$104,100 on November 16, 2018; US$15,700 on August 2, 2019, and US$14,400 on September 21, 2019. The auditors are quoted by Holding as reporting “In this particular situation, CWI was the financial conduit.”

It raises the question of the extent of due diligence performed to ensure that the source of the funds was legitimate and that the funds were clean from an anti-money laundering compliance perspective. The funds were supposed to be specifically earmarked for cricket development in Dominica. However, there was no evidence CWI obtained confirmation from the DCA that the funds were used as directed.

2. A private loan of US$125,000 paid by a CWI sponsor to St Lucia International Business Company (IBC) Resilia Incorporated in December 2013. Holding wondered why the auditors would become aware of this loan, and as a matter of transparency, if any member of the CWI board also sat on the board of Resilia?

3. In September 2018 a CWI HR committee member proposed a change management program for players and staff facilitated by himself at a cost of US$134,500. This was not approved at the September CWI board meeting. Two administrators later spoke to the HR committee member and a proposal was agreed to run the program in three phases at a new cost of US$180,000. His services were then procured without HR committee or board approval. The new board put the program on hold after $30k was spent.

As a closing remark, and to underline the current climate of mistrust, Holding stated that in 2013/14 Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) donated US$500,000 to CWI for the benefit of ‘past players’. Falling into that category himself, Holding was not aware of any money benefiting any ex West Indian player since that time.

Tony Asthaphan, Legal Counsel for CWI told Andrew Mason, host of the popular Mason and Guest on Friday, that he was surprised by Holding’s comments. He said he was aware that CWI had received the money and kept it for a long period of time. He said the CWI held onto the funds because they were having cash flow issues and had to use the money for some operations…. All money that was sent was received and it was solely used for cricket development purposes,” Asthaphan said.

President of Cricket West Indies (CWI) Ricky Skerritt has advised Radio Jamaica Sports that he will be following up on a 26 point recommendation in the internal audit report by the UK-based firm Pannell Kerr Forster (PKF).

When contacted by phone on Friday, Skerritt admitted that the financial review was completed in 2019, but said CWI had no intention of releasing it to the public. However, the CWI boss said he’s keen to utilize the recommendations from the auditing firm.

Holding stated in the youtube broadcast on Friday that CWI is not a private company even though they were registered in the Virgin Islands. The 6 regional boards are public shareholders and represent the clubs on the various islands and as such are entitled to view the recommendations in the audit report.

Cricket West Indies’ next Annual General Meeting, which was postponed from April 19 due to the Covid-19 coronavirus, is now set for May 29.

John Stephenson




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