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Kenyan crisis and Trinidad woes: who benefits from the chaos?

Last updated 15 days ago | By Robin Toskin

Football Kenya Football (FKF) president Nick Mwendwa addressing a courtroom during the hearing of a case challenging several aspects of the electoral code of the Football Kenya Federation Electoral board at the Nairobi law courts on February 25, 2020. [Photo/Stafford Ondego/FKF COURT CASE]

Slightly over half a year since the end of the term of office of Football Kenya Federation (FKF) executive committee led by Nick Mwendwa, it is unclear whether there would be elections to pick a new office any time soon.

Far off in the Caribbean nation of Trinidad & Tobago, world football governing body Fifa, removed a validly elected office of William Wallace three months into their tenure.

The new TTFA office had sent to Fifa a forensic audit conducted by reputable firms showing how the previous office could not account for $3.5 million (Sh350million) in Fifa Forward Fund to build Trinidad & Tobago’s Home of Football – a similar initiative as Fifa Goal Project at Kasarani – christened, Kandanda House.

The new TTFA had hoped Fifa would work with it to trace the lost cash. Instead, Fifa imposed a Normalisation Committee on March 17, the same day the Kenya Sports Disputes Tribunal nullified shambolic FKF elections.

Upon ousting the new TTFA office, Fifa installed a Normalisation Committee. Fifa justified the move thus: “The decision follows the recent FIFA/Concacaf fact-finding mission to Trinidad and Tobago to assess, together with an independent auditor, the financial situation of TTFA.

“The mission found that extremely low overall financial management methods, combined with a massive debt, have resulted in the TTFA facing a very real risk of insolvency and illiquidity. Such a situation is putting at risk the organisation and development of football in the country and corrective measures need to be applied urgently.”

Guardian Media Trinidad & Tobago had been investigating David John-William’s financial dealings relating to the $3.5million for the Home of Football, long before he was voted out on November 24 last year despite open endorsement by Fifa president Gianni Infantino six days to the election.

The investigations by the Guardian’s investigative journalist Mark Bassant unearthed startling money trail to Panama where they established an account held by David John-Williams with an excess of $1.5million (Sh150million).

The common name that keeps popping up in the troubles of the two nations, Kenya and Trinidad, is one Swiss-Congolese Veron Mosengo-Omba.

Before he became Fifa’s Chief Member Associations officer, Mosengo-Omba was in charge of associations in Africa and the Caribbean.

Almost at the same time in 2016 or thereabouts, he approved FKF’s ambitious project of acquiring an Outside Broadcasting van and equipment the Kenyan FA said would be used to produced local content and save it millions in production costs.

FKF wanted Sh135million ($135,000) from Fifa and that they would top up with another Sh80million for their Sh215million project.

Standard Sports requested from FKF documents relating to the tendering process, NEC minutes authorising the OB vans’ purchase and from the specific supplier, due diligence certificates on WTS Media Group and other relevant documents to no avail.

Veron Mosengo-Omba, Fifa Chief Member Associations Officer. [Internet]

Meanwhile, in Trinidad & Tobago, Fifa approved $2million dollars (Sh200million) for TTFA’s Home of Football.

While the TTFA project took off but remains incomplete even after a further $1.5million was sunk to make it $3.5million, FKF received their Sh135million – paid out Sh125 million as down payment but the United Kingdom-based company, WTS Media Limited, that was to supply the OB van and equipment went burst.

Several inquiries by Standard Sports to Mosengo-Omba and Fifa have drawn long pauses followed by the standard response that “Fifa is investigating the matter”.

One of the largest single payment to WTS Media that Standard Sports has seen is $1.08million made on March 14, 2018 long after Mwendwa admitted to Ghetto Radio that they learnt of the supplier’s woes late 2017.

From October 5 last year, FKF has mismanaged the electoral process resulting in two nullifications by the Sports Disputes Tribunal for violating the Fifa Statutes, the FKF Constitution 2017, the provisions of Sports Act 2013 (amended 2018) and the Constitution of Kenya 2010.

One of the violations that resulted in FKF missing the crucial election timelines ahead of the expiry of the National Executive Committee on February 10 this year, stemmed from complete disregard of Fifa Standard electoral code, Article 4(3) which says: “The ordinary General Assembly at which the (Electoral) Committee is elected shall take place at least months before the elective General Assembly at which the executive is elected.”

FKF’s elective General Assembly was to be on December 7, 2019 but the Elections Board was put in place on October 5 – three months less that the mandatory six.

Fifa insists that for the sake of integrity and transparency no Electoral Board member can serve in two consecutive terms as sets out in Article 4 (2) of its Standard Electoral Code that, “The members of the (Electoral) Committee are not allowed to serve for two consecutive terms.”

FKF’s elections code states in Section 3 (1) that: “The mandates of the members of the Electoral board, as well as the three substitutes, shall last for four years. They shall not serve for more than two terms of office, whether consecutive or not.”

Yet FKF went ahead and appointed one of the members of the 2016 electoral board to chair the 2020 committee.

All this time, Mosengo-Omba – Fifa’s head of associations looked the other way despite the world football governing body stating in its code that, “Failure by the association to apply the principles of this code shall be considered a serious violation of Article 13 of the Fifa Statutes and shall lead to consequences described in Article 14 of the Fifa statutes or the disciplinary measures provided for under Article 55 of the Fifa Statutes,” states paragraph (1) of the section (G) of the Fifa Standard Electoral Code.”

The immediate legitimate question football stakeholders asked at the time is “Who benefits from these violations and why is Fifa looking the other way and writing letters that encourage FKF officials to break the law as one Mosengo-Omba signed on March 25?”

Despite FKF missing the February 10 deadline, Mosengo-Omba insists FKF elections must be held in accordance with the FA’s constitution and Fifa elections code — never mind there being no legitimate office to oversee the process.

Back in Trinidad &Tobago, investigations by the Guardian Media titled “The truth about Home of Football” reveals how untouchable David John-Williams received and spent Fifa money without following the laid down processes and behind the backs of TTFA executive committee. Invoices were sent directly to David John-William’s and payments to contractors done from accounts not belonging to the federation.

This is in contravention of Article 8 D of Fifa’s Forward Development Programme regulations, which states that associations may only use bonafide accounts to transact project business, yet the materials of the TTFA Home of Football were paid via RBC and Republic Banks accounts, when all three of TTFA’s accounts are at First Citizens, Guardian Media reports.

GML Investigative Editor Mark Bassant grills former TTFA president David John-Williams during an interview at the Brechin Castle Golf Course, Couva, on September 8, 2020. [Abraham Diaz/Guardian Media]

Secret account in Panama

The extensive investigation revealed the existence of $1.5million in an offshore account linked to the former TTFA president, an account forensic investigators said was opened on April 1, 2017, just around the same time Fifa wired the money to Trinidad & Tobago.

When the new office of William Wallace came in on November 24 last year, they expected Fifa to release Fifa Forward development money for 2019-2022 entitled to the TTFA.

However, Mosengo-Omba failed to inform the new office that David John-Williams had already received the money that is yet to be accounted for.

John-Williams had also taken a loan from the Central American confederation (Concacaf) immediately he came into office, which facility was never revealed to the TTFA executive according to the investigation.

While the loan amounting to $662,988.04 was meant to cater for the national team technical operations and outstanding coaches’ salaries – a substantial amount was diverted to the TTFA Home of Football.

When the new office of Wallace took over, they asked Mosengo-Omba about these suspicious dealings, the Fifa official said: “We are aware of the financial situation and existing debts of the TTFA.

However, in order to have a holistic view of the financial situation of the TTFA, we will send joint missions Fifa-Concacaf which will comprise of financial experts to work with the FA so that we can have clarity and work with you for the next move in the meantime. We can only release funding directly related to competition tournament preparation as we have been doing so far,”

 A month later on March 17 this year, Fifa ordered a Normalisation Committee to the consternation of the new officials.

Since then, attempts by William Wallace and his ousted executive to seek arbitration at the Court of Arbitration for Sport have been frustrated by Fifa. Wallace and his executive have since turned to the Trinidad & Tobago High Court for recource.

Fifa has already lost the first round of the case, but have now threatened Trinidad & Tobago with a ban from all international competitions.

In Kenya, meanwhile, the electoral process has stalled and on Tuesday (September 15) aggrieved stakeholders will have their day at the Sports Disputes Tribunal seeking to stop the exercise for a third time until the provisions Fifa Statutes, FKF Constitution, Sports Act 2013 and the Constitution of Kenya 2010 are fully implemented to guarantee a level playing ground.

Veron Mosengo-Omba. [Courtesy]
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