All Sport Promotions Ltd finance director Bruce Aanensen has expressed deep concerns over what he deemed an unjust assault on the character of the company, its directors and its marketing manager Mr Anthony Harford by Minister of Sport, Anil Roberts.
Aanensen, who is also president of the Queen's Park Cricket Club (QPCC), made the pronouncement at a press conference in the President Box of the Queen's Park Oval yesterday, as he sought to clear the air on allegations made in Parliament by Roberts on October 5.
Roberts blamed faulty accounting by All Sport for the Ministry's initial decision not to fund the Trinidad and Tobago senior national football team to St Kitts for Digicel Caribbean Cup qualifiers, which T&T won with a perfect record.
He also said Harford had billed the Ministry $936,125 for services rendered by All Sport Promotions, and stated that several requests from the Ministry of Sport's Permanent Secretary Ashwin Creed for invoices with regard to expenditure were never supplied.
"Firstly, All Sport was contracted by the TTFF to manage two projects," Aanensen explained. "A 2011 project carrying a budget of $11 million involving the preparation of the senior team for the first phase of the qualification for the 2014 World Cup and which ended on December 31, 2011, and a 2012 project that involved the preparation of the Men's U-23 Olympic team for the final Olympic qualifiers and the Women U-17 team for the final round of qualifiers for the U-17 World Cup, which had a budget of $7.5m.
"In the case of the 2011 project I provided an interim statement of income and expenditure to October 31, 2011 reflecting a total expenditure of $5.6m, inclusive of a management fee of $206,375 to All Sport."
Aanensen said there were no questions raised regarding the disbursements or the format of the presentation, which he assumed meant the Ministry was satisfied with those figures.
Aanensen added that T&T Football Federation (TTFF) general secretary Richard Groden hand delivered the final statement of income and expenditure for 2011, including government funds, sponsorship and gate receipts from home matches.
"Again, we were left to believe that the Ministry was satisfied since we did not get a response from them," Aanensen stated.
"Yet on October 9, some nine months later and four days after the Minister's outburst in Parliament, we receive to letters from the Ministry dated Oct 1 and 3 requesting certain additional information."
Aanensen said that his organisation is quite prepared to provide the information requested as they have always done on similar projects with the Ministry, including the 2006 World Cup in Germany, where he was commended for accounting for every cent of expenditure during the campaign while serving as head of delegation.
He also questioned how Roberts could claim to have received accounts explaining expenditure of $5,611,983.25 reflecting the interim expenditure up to October 31, 2011, but eloquently stated that Harford paid himself $936,125, a figure that is only contained in the final accounts.
"How could he have known this amount without having received the final accounts?"
Anensen stated that the $1 million management fee charged by All Sport for the 2011 project was considerably less than market rates, and represented 50 per cent of their standard fees and further added that the fees were included in the agreed budget and was fully endorsed by the Minister.
"I believe somewhere along the line the Minister is getting the two projects mixed Minister is getting and I ask why would they commit another $7.5m if they were not satisfied with the handling of the first $11 million."
"For Minister Roberts to wave and ridicule the presentation of accounts at a media conference is both unfortunate and disrespectful to Mr Harford and All Sport Promotions.
"In so doing the Minister breached all tenets of natural justice. Further, the attack was not confined to Mr Harford personally but also to All Sport Promotions and therefore represents an attack on the honesty, integrity and credibility of my wife and I, who are both directors of the company and co-owners with Mr Harford and his family."