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SPORTS

Sh125million question FKF won’t answer

ATHLETICS By Robin Toskin | November 10th 2021
Football Kenya Federation President Nick Mwendwa when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Labour and Social Welfare in Parliament, Nairobi on November 4, 2021 [David Njaaga, Standard]

It is official. The Sh125million Fifa Forward funds the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) paid to WTS Media Group Ltd for a phantom OB van has disappeared into a black hole.

In a letter to creditors seen by Standard Sports, the receiver managers BDO LLP communicated the chilling truth to FKF thus: “We received a claim from you for the total of £928,508.65. As discussed, there were insufficient realisations made to enable a distribution to unsecured creditors in the Administration.”

The letter adds: “For the avoidance of doubt, the Football Kenya Federation’s claim ranked as unsecured in the Administration.”

The Sh125million was part of a Sh215million (US$ 2,157,300 at the time) flagship project Nick Mwendwa’s administration submitted to world football governing body, Fifa, when they were elected on February 10, 2016.

Fifa’s contribution, which they released, was US$1,350,000 while FKF was to foot the remaining US$807,300.

According to FKF’s proposal, an OB van would be useful, “in a country where corporate sponsorships are hard to come by, the money that is obtained from sale of the broadcast rights is critical for the teams (local football clubs).”

Whether by willful negligence on the part of FKF or just business gone South, WTS Media Group Ltd was declared insolvent months after it was paid Sh125million. When Standard Sports first broke the news in 2019, FKF threatened to sue the media house over its reporting of the matter.

At the time, Standard Sports’ investigation revealed that FKF’s staggering investment was not secured. As an unsecured creditor, FKF stood to recoup only £19 (equivalent of Sh1,968) of the Sh125million paid or get a reasonable/full refund but only if the Joint Administrators managed to breathe life into the Company.

Predictably, the Administration of the Company (WTS Media Group Ltd) ended on April 14 this year subsequently dissolved at Companies House of United Kingdom on July 14 without a penny of FKF’s Fifa Forward Fund.

FKF maintained at the time that the project was fully sanctioned by the world football governing body Fifa and that then Head of Member Associations for Africa and the Caribbean, Veron Mosengo-Omba, had approved the acquisition of the OB van.

In October 2019, Standard Sports inquired from Fifa whether they knew of the non-delivery of the van despite FKF forking out Sh125million out of Sh135million it disbursed for the project.

A Fifa spokesman at the time said: “Fifa has been notified of the non-delivery of the FKF broadcast vans. In this respect, we are still awaiting to receive a full report from the FKF’s lawyers on this matter.”

The OB van deal featured prominently in FKF’s bungled elections last year, twice nullified by the Sports Disputes Tribunal (SDT) with stakeholders accusing Mosengo-Omba of turning a blind eye on the transaction that threatened the integrity of the poll.

Mosengo-Omba, who is now back in Africa as the General Secretary of Caf, trashed the SDT rulings saying they were not binding to FKF. The Congolese-Swiss, who approved the acquisition of the OB van, has to date, declined to answer a raft of questions Standard Sports posed to him, including whether FKF undertook due diligence on WTS Media Group Ltd as demanded by Fifa and what were their findings.

FILE PHOTO: OB van packed at Kasarani stadium during a live coverage.[Courtesy, Standard

In an interview with a local radio station, FKF president Mwendwa said the now dissolved company was profitable until late 2017 when they learnt of their financial distress.

Curiously, however, FKF went ahead and paid $1.080 million on March 14, 2018 to WTS Media Group Ltd, which vans did not legally belong to the UK-based company.

A casual look at WTS Media Group Limited Financial Statement as at June 30 2017 showed a negative figure of £668,235 considering £3,093,572 cash in hand and overdrafts of £3,761,807.

FKF has since been placed under formal inspection by the office of Sports Registrar.

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