By Muambo Edward 

Football Writer, – Cameroon

The world football governing, FIFA, has expressed a strong desire to investigate some financial transactions carried out by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) after the submission of a financial audit on the African football governing body’s financial transactions.

One of such areas of interest is CAF’s dealings with French Company Tactical Steel. A joint task force comprised of members from both CAF and FIFA has recommended further investigation and the gathering of more information on several of such dealings.

In 2017, CAF cancelled an order worth $250,000 with sportswear giants Puma, and switched to a similar deal worth $1 million with Tactical Steel, a company heavily linked to one of the close associates of CAF’s President Ahmad Ahmad.

Six months ago, 57-year-old Senegalese Fatma Samoura, the FIFA Secretary General was appointed on CAF’s request as the General Delegate for Africa at CAF on a six-months mandate amidst serious governance and financial scandals.

The Senegalese main mission was to improve on the governance of Africa’s football governing body.

At the end of her mission, the CAF-FIFA joint task force presented a number of findings and made recommendations and proposals to CAF’s Executive Committee members in the Moroccan city of Laayoune on February 2, 2020.

Most of the findings, recommendations and proposals were focused on how to improve on the continent’s infrastructure, refereeing and the continent’s competitions. This was also accompanied by a ‘100-point action plan’ on good governance.

The highlights of the recommendations were a need to implement the following:

• The need to review financial payments made between CAF and French company Lagardere. Lagardere is the media company that had a billion dollar television marketing deal relating to CAF’s leading football competitions

• The need to carry out due diligence on payment from FIFA development fund – FIFA forward – and CAF itself to all the 54 member associations that make up the African football governing body

• Investigate allegations of possible mismanagement and misappropriation of funds linked to the construction of the CAF Excellence Centre in Mbankomo, Cameroon

• To investigate fraudulent bank transfers and clarify ‘the circumstances around (various) incidents to rule out insider involvement’ – and ‘if necessary, file a criminal complaint and take legal action to ensure the recovery of the stolen amounts’

• Extend the scope of the audit to include the years 2013-14- explore ‘the lack of documentation related to financial transactions’ prior to 2015.

Highly reputable and reliable audit firm PricewaterhouseCoppers was charged with the responsibility of carrying out the audit on the African football governing body. They have not made their findings public, but public interest continues to grow and pressure continues to mount for an insight into the findings.

The joint Task Force has also recommended a fundamental change in the way CAF is structured, introduction of an independent investigatory body and the need to have term limits for both the CAF President and the Executive Committee members have been proposed.

There is also a recommendation on the need to install ‘robust and compliance procedures’, ‘internal auditing’ and the need for a whistleblowing hotline and to put in place policies that prevent retaliation against whistle-blowers.

CAF President Ahmad Ahmad was questioned in France, last June for corruption charges, related to the deal between CAF and Tactical Steel. Recommendations from the joint Task Force have called for a check on the ‘value of equipment purchased, check quantities and quality of balls delivered to Member Associations, due diligence of bank account holders.’

Tactical Steel was a company priding itself in its ability to manufacture and supply gym equipment as clearly demonstrated on the company’s website. But shortly after Malagasy Ahmad Ahmad became CAF’s President in 2017, the company became one of CAF’s key suppliers.

CAF justified their choice and confidence in the small and little known company on the basis that, football and kits ordered from Puma could not apparently be obtained in time from a local manufacturer.

But eyebrows were raised when it became public knowledge that President Ahmad Ahmad’s then attaché Loic Gerand is an old friend of Romuald Seillier, the French owner of Tactical Steel.

Even with this relationship between Gerand and Seillier, CAF’s President Ahmad Ahmad made it clear to the BBC last year that there was “quite clearly no conflict of interest“ for his organization.

The CAF President has maintained that there was no wrongdoing in the attribution of the contract to Tactical Steel. There is however no evidence to justify that Mr Ahmad, Tactical Steel’s owner Romuald Seillier and Mr Ahmad’s attaché Loic Gerand had personally profited from the deal.

The storm is far from over at the Confederation African Football but all football lovers on the continent and the rest of the world can wish for is to see the sun at the end of the storm for FIFA’s second-largest Confederation.

Copyright 2020

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