T&T boxing board chairman suspended over fraud allegation
(Trinidad Express) Chairman of the Trinidad and Tobago Boxing Board of Control (TTBBC) Deopersad Ramoutar has been suspended following allegations of financial impropriety.
His suspension took effect on December 10 last year and followed a board of directors meeting held on October 16.
The board comprises deputy chairman Imtiaz Zaid Mohammed, secretary Vijay Bhaggan, members Shama Stroude, Neale Greaves, Keven Antoine and Colin Mills.
On December 10, Mohammed wrote Ramoutar, stating the decision to suspend him was “unanimous”.
Mohammed in his letter described as horrendous the reaction of the board when “it was discovered that you wrote cheques in your favour without the knowledge and approval of the Board.”
The Sunday Express obtained copies of four cheques: August 30, 2013- $3,000, October 15-$2,000, August 27-$5,000 and October 16-$10,000. The cheques were made out to Ramoutar and signed by himself and Greaves.
A fifth cheque totalling $30,000 was made out to the Amateur Boxing Association.
Sources told the Sunday Express that during August, Greaves had indicated he will not be in the country.
Three members are authorised to sign off on cheques (Ramoutar, Greaves and Antoine) but two signatories are required to access funds.
Sources say Ramoutar informed Greaves cash was needed to pay off debts incurred by the Amateur Association.
Five blank cheques were signed to facilitate this, sources said.
Mohammed said the inability of the board to conduct any financial transactions was stalled since Ramoutar “refused to comply, in spite of repeated requests, from the accountant and directors for you to furnish the board with all financial documents, cheque books and statements of accounts”.
In his letter, Mohammed said, “Our accountant lodged several complaints stating that she had to date, not received returns, vouchers or any supporting documents which will allow her to properly document and manage the accounts of the Board. With this in mind, we sought to review the financial statements from the First Citizens Account No. 2016754. See Cheque Nos. -0000160; 0000163; 0000176; 0000177 and 0000174 drawn the aforementioned FCB account without the necessary supporting documents ie vouchers and Board minutes.”
Minutes of the twelfth meeting of the TTBBC held on October 16, at the Board’s Eastern Main Road, Tunapuna headquarters indicated that Bhaggan moved a motion of no confidence in Ramoutar and also requested that Ramoutar tender his resignation based on “the reoccurring mismanagement, micro-managing and dictatorial actions”.
Ramoutar was not present at the meeting.
It was also agreed by the members present that a letter informing First Citizens that Ramoutar was no longer a signatory to all TTBBC’s accounts should be sent out and his signature needed to be removed with immediate effect.
The signatures of Greaves and Antoine remained.
The decision was also taken to open a new account at another financial institution since Ramoutar remained unco-operative in providing the Board with several documents.
Both the minutes of the meeting and Mohammed’s letter were copied to Sport Minister Anil Roberts and permanent secretary in the Ministry of Sport Ashwin Creed.
Sources say the ball is now in Roberts’ court as to whether or not he will uphold the suspension or launch an investigation into the allegations being made against Ramoutar.
Sources say prior to the suspension, Ramoutar was asked by the Board to resign, but he declined.
When the Sunday Express contacted Mohammed he declined to say much about the suspension.
He said: “There is an issue with the operations of the Board as we speak and we as the board are awaiting instructions from Ministry of Sport on how to proceed.”
The Sunday Express also contacted Ramoutar who insisted he was still the chairman of the TTBBC.
“There are some members who made the allegations about me having the cheques and these were justified. It is no longer an issue. The only person who can suspend the chairman is the minister.”
Ramoutar said there was a lot of infighting taking place on the board and this “is being sorted out by the minister.
“There were some arguments in a meeting and a lot of things were said, but these have been settled. I don’t know how this reach outside. The board cannot suspend me”.
Admitting that he did in fact make cheques out in his name, Ramoutar said this was done above board but declined to comment further stating: “That is private business right now.”
Several calls and text messages sent to Roberts and Creed went unanswered.
In a letter dated November 28, 2013 to Sport Minister Anil Roberts and copied to Permanent Secretary Ashwin Creed, the Office of the Attorney General, the Integrity Commission and the Commissioner of Police, Ramoutar claims that board members did not involve him in decision making.
Ramoutar’s letter followed that of an October 16 meeting to have him suspended following allegations of financial impropriety.
Ramoutar claimed in his letter that documents have been submitted to the Sport Ministry by TTBBC board members over the allocation of $416,166.16.
“Whatever type of meetings that were held was done to eliminate my intervention and contribution, secondly the use of the monies was not in keeping with the proposal submitted and approved. Additionally, a new banking account was open with another banking institution; this could only have taken place if misleading information were given to the bank’s officials about the Chairman’s status.”
Ramoutar added he was of the opinion that an act of fraud, “misbehavior in public office and other offences have been committed”.
When the Sunday Express asked Ramoutar about the contents of his letter, he said he could not remember when it was written and what it contained.
He said he did not wish to comment further since it was an internal matter.
In responding to the claims, Mohammed via a letter written on December 10, and addressed to Ramoutar, denied any conspiracy or wrongdoing and described Ramoutar’s claims as libel.
Mohammed reminded Ramoutar that he refused to attend board meetings.
“On Novembr 13, 2013, at a board meeting , you met with the directors and indicated your intention to resign subject to certain terms and condition. It was agreed that you would tender your resignation and the terms would have been subsequently detailed.”