There are allegations that source documents were withheld during the audit of the Normalisation Committee tenure

Dear Editor,

Reference is made to your article titled ‘GFF to stage Extraordinary Congress December 16’. The Normalization Committee (NC), comprising several eminent Guyanese ‒ Karen Pilgrim, Tariq Williams, Eric Phillips, Rabin Chandarpal and Stuart May ‒ ended its tenure to restore confidence in the leadership structure and establish systems and protocols for the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) two years ago.  For our efforts, we were bestowed with the title of ‘honorary members’ by the GFF membership; an unprecedented acknowledgement by the GFF.  Therefore, it came as a monumental surprise (to put it mildly) to all the members on the NC when we read via Stabroek News on September 27 that a FIFA Audit of 2015 found “misuse of funds” during the 2015 period when we led the organization.  Even though the audit report was handed over to the GFF a year earlier in 2016, no attempt was ever made by FIFA or the GFF to contact any member of the NC for a comment on the broad conclusions of the audit. Moreover, no attempt was ever made during the one-week audit conducted by accounting firm Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) for a comment from any NC member or the former finance director of the GFF. Additionally, since learning of the audit conclusions through the media, the entire NC comprising Karen Pilgrim, Tariq Williams, Eric Phillips and Rabin Chandarpal wrote both FIFA and GFF for a comment and clarification on the matter and received no response from FIFA, and in the case of the GFF, a request for a meeting was denied by its President Wayne Forde.

During our tenure, we had reformed and instituted a robust financial system in the GFF. All financial transactions had to be prepared by the finance department and approved by its director; then they had to pass the scrutiny of the FIFA and CONCACAF appointed General Secretary Richard Groden before being presented to both myself and Karen Pilgrim (who held no physical office at the GFF) for final signatures. Moreover, the NC had to receive the guidance and approval of FIFA’s member association and development departments in respect to all financial debts owed by the GFF.  The NC did not act in isolation and was guided throughout its entire tenure by both CONACAF and FIFA representatives, which makes all of this bizarrely puzzling.

Subsequent to the September 27 SN report, at least two former senior staff members of the GFF administration have since come forward and confessed that during the PWC audit, source documents were deliberately withheld from the auditors, despite them informing the then finance director (who was new to the job at the time) that all the requested documents from the auditors were available. These individuals are willing to publicly testify under oath verifying/confirming this. If this is true, then it would obviously lead to a skewed audit conclusion which would result in it being defined as “misuse of funds,” which for FIFA is defined as “cases where the use of FIFA Development Funds could not be traced to supporting documentation or the use was not aligned with FIFA-prescribed purposes”.

Something sinister is at play with these developments that are playing out in the press by ‘sources of the GFF’ and not in a professional manner. It begs the question if this is being used to tarnish good names and achievements during its tenure, of NC members or as a red herring distraction for the current woes facing the GFF administration, for example, the change of several executive directors and financial directors in less than two years and the financial irregularities found in the 2016 auditor’s report.

This is my final word on this matter in the press and all subsequent interventions, if necessary, will be through judicial channels.

Yours faithfully,

Clinton Urling

Former NC Chairman

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