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Sat, Jun

T&T Super League president, Keith Look Loy, left, with his attorney Matthew Gayle leaves Hall of Justice in Port-of-Spain after winning his case against the T&T Football Association (TTFA), yesterday.
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The T&T Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (TTFA) has been cau­tioned by a High Court Judge over its re­peat­ed re­fusal to re­lease in­for­ma­tion on the con­struc­tion of its US$2.5 mil­lion "Home for Foot­ball" in Bal­main, Cou­va to one of its di­rec­tors.

De­liv­er­ing an oral judge­ment at the Hall of Jus­tice in Port-of-Spain yes­ter­day af­ter­noon, High Court Judge Ron­nie Boodoos­ingh ruled that TTFA pres­i­dent David John-Williams and for­mer gen­er­al sec­re­tary Justin Lat­apy-George act­ed ir­ra­tional­ly and un­rea­son­ably when they re­peat­ed­ly de­clined re­quests made by TTFA di­rec­tor and T&T Su­per League pres­i­dent Kei­th Look Loy, since De­cem­ber 2017.

"Or­gan­i­sa­tions like the TTFA, hav­ing been in­cor­po­rat­ed by statute, can not be the per­son­al fief­dom of in­di­vid­u­als. Even if it were so in the past, it can not be so in mod­ern times," Boodoos­ingh said, as he or­dered John-Williams to dis­close the in­for­ma­tion to Look Loy with­in sev­en days.

Nei­ther John-Williams nor Lat­apy-George were present in court for the judge­ment and were rep­re­sent­ed by the TTFA's lawyer Anand Mis­sir.

In his judge­ment, Boodoos­ingh ruled that Look Loy was en­ti­tled to seek the in­for­ma­tion which in­cludes the fi­nanc­ing arrange­ment for the fa­cil­i­ty, the ten­der­ing process used for se­lect­ing the con­trac­tor and sub-con­trac­tors and time-frames for com­ple­tion.

"He (Look Loy) has oblig­a­tions as well as po­ten­tial li­a­bil­i­ties and must, there­fore, have the true po­si­tion of the as­so­ci­a­tion so he can prop­er­ly per­form his func­tions," Boodoos­ingh said.

Stat­ing that trans­paren­cy is the an­ti­dote for cor­rup­tion, Boodoos­ingh ques­tioned the ra­tio­nale of the TTFA of­fi­cials in the case.

"Giv­en in­ter­na­tion­al knowl­edge of the tur­moil in Fi­fa, one would have thought that the de­fen­dant would not have found it­self in the po­si­tion it has," he said, al­so crit­i­cis­ing the TTFA for re­quest­ing that Look Loy sign a non-dis­clo­sure agree­ment if he was to be giv­en the in­for­ma­tion. The TTFA claimed that the re­quest was made af­ter it re­ceived ad­vice on the is­sue from Fi­fa, which main­ly fi­nanced the project.

"It is not about pro­tect­ing an or­gan­i­sa­tion but what is in the best in­ter­est of the world game...Those who have noth­ing to hide, should not fear light be­ing shone on them," Boodoos­ingh said.

As a sec­ondary is­sue in the case, the TTFA was al­leg­ing that Look Loy should not have been al­lowed to bring the ju­di­cial re­view law­suit as it is not a pub­lic body, whose de­ci­sions are ca­pa­ble of be­ing re­viewed by a court.

Boodoos­ingh strong­ly dis­agreed as he point­ed out that it was es­tab­lished by an Act of Par­lia­ment to man­age and pro­mote foot­ball in the coun­try and that it re­ceives oc­ca­sion­al State fund­ing.

He al­so re­ject­ed the TTFA claim that the is­sue should have been re­solved us­ing ar­bi­tra­tion as he stat­ed that such have would re­quire "will­ing­ness" from both par­ties.

In ad­di­tion to or­der­ing the dis­clo­sure of the in­for­ma­tion, Boodoos­ingh al­so or­dered the as­so­ci­a­tion to foot Look Loy's le­gal bill for pur­su­ing the law­suit.

Look Loy was rep­re­sent­ed by Dr Emir Crowne, Matthew Gayle and Crys­tal Paul.

Ac­coun­tants agree to analyse doc­u­ments

A team of foren­sic ac­coun­tants are ex­pect­ed to look in­to the fi­nan­cial records on the con­struc­tion of the "Home for Foot­ball".

In a brief in­ter­view out­side the Hall of Jus­tice in Port-of-Spain, af­ter Look Loy won his law­suit against the TTFA, he said the ac­coun­tants ap­proached by him had al­ready agreed to analyse the doc­u­ments once they are re­leased by the TTFA over the next week.

Look Loy said: "I don't know what we would find. I nev­er ac­cused any­one of any­thing but in the ab­sence of fac­tu­al in­for­ma­tion there would be spec­u­la­tion and there is a moun­tain of spec­u­la­tion over what is hap­pen­ing in Cou­va.

"I am go­ing in there now to see what ex­act­ly has been hap­pen­ing, not on be­half of Kei­th Look Loy but be­half foot­ball com­mu­ni­ty and the peo­ple of T&T."

Asked how he felt with the out­come of the case, Look Loy said he was al­ways con­fi­dent.

"It feels good to know that there was re­course for me and oth­er peo­ple who are fight­ing for trans­paren­cy in the con­duct of busi­ness, hu­man af­fairs and the con­duct of TTFA af­fairs," he said.

He al­so sug­gest­ed that Jus­tice Ron­nie Boodoos­ingh's judge­ment in the case may help im­prove the sport in T&T.

"The judge was right. Foot­ball is not pri­vate busi­ness or a pri­vate fief­dom, it be­longs to all of us," he said.

About the Project (Put in box)

The "Home for Foot­ball" project is ex­pect­ed to in­clude a 72-room ho­tel, train­ing pitch­es, an en­ter­tain­ment cen­tre and ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fices for the as­so­ci­a­tion.

The sod was turned in Sep­tem­ber 2017, with con­struc­tion start­ing in Feb­ru­ary, last year. The project was spon­sored by Fi­fa and is be­ing con­struct­ed on a lit­tle over sev­en hectares of land do­nat­ed by the Gov­ern­ment.

The project was al­ready at an ad­vanced stage when Fi­fa rep­re­sen­ta­tive Veron Mosen­go-Om­ba and Sports Min­is­ter Sham­fa Cud­joe con­duct­ed a tour in Au­gust, last year.

The project is still in­com­plete but the fa­cil­i­ty is sched­uled to be opened, lat­er this year.

RELATED NEWS

“Public organisations can’t be run like private fiefdoms!” Court orders DJW to hand TTFA financial info over to Look Loy
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868).


Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) board member and TTSL president Keith Look Loy hailed a ‘complete victory’ over football president David John-Williams this afternoon, after the High Court ordered John-Williams to make all financial information related to the local football body available to the claimant within seven days.

Look Loy, who was appointed to the TTFA board in January 2018, turned to the courts after his repeated requests for information related to the controversial Home of Football project were either ignored by John-Williams or only offered on various conditions, including that the administrator sign a non-disclosure agreement.

However, Justice Ronnie Boodoosingh rubbished John-Williams’ stance as he ordered the TTFA president to not only make the requested information available within a week but to also permit Look Loy to make copies.

Once more, John-Williams was stuck with not only the cost of his legal team but must also pick up the tab for Look Loy’s attorneys as well—expenses that must again be borne by the cash strapped local football body.

Crucially too, John-Williams’ stalling encouraged Look Loy to widen the scope of his enquiry to not just the Home of Football but every cent spent during the president’s tenure, which began on 30 November 2015.

Look Loy told Wired868 that he will immediately hire a forensic accountant to help shine light on the secret spending of the John-Williams-led administration, which has been kept hidden from even board members.

“I asked for names for all the contractors who worked [on the Home of Football] in Couva, what they worked for, who gave them the contracts, how much money has been spent, where the works have reached, etc,” said Look Loy. “But I also asked for the ledger of the TTFA from November 2015 to present. Why? Because it is the daily record of income and expenditure of the TTFA that tells the entire day by day history of the [football body] until March 2019.

“I am expecting we will find information on a lot of questions we have been asking including what is the TTFA’s relationship with I95.5FM, etc.

“It is extensive work but it is work that has to be done for us to ascertain the true financial status of the TTFA and to find out who has been spending money, what has the money been spent on and who has been receiving the money.”

Look Loy was represented by attorneys Matthew Gayle, Dr Emir Crowne and Crystal Paul. Anand Missir was retained by the TTFA.

John-Williams never denied that Look Loy was authorised to receive the information requested, according to the TTFA’s constitution. However, his legal team argued that world governing body, FIFA, was keen on a certain level of confidentiality for the project, that Look Loy ought to have used in-house arbitration before approaching the courts and the High Court was not the right forum to settle the dispute in any case since, they claimed, the TTFA was not a public body.

Justice Boodoosingh gave short shrift to each point as he pointed out that the TTFA was incorporated by an act of Parliament and the entire public has a stake in the going-ons of the national football body. And he chided John-Williams for trying to stand behind an alleged suggestion by FIFA, which the president did not support with documentation.

“The judge made the point that transparency and accountability are necessary in the modern world and those who have nothing to hide shouldn’t be afraid of the light,” said Look Loy. “And he said the TTFA and FIFA should have seized the opportunity to lay everything bare; but, even if FIFA said there should have been no disclosure, the TTFA should have rejected it and made the information available [for the sake of] the image of the game.

“Even if this type of thing happened before, it must not happen again. He actually made the point that public organisations cannot be run like private fiefdoms.”

The High Court’s ruling compounded a miserable month of March for John-Williams. Last week, Concacaf banned all Trinidad and Tobago clubs from participating in its competitions, due to the TTFA’s failure to properly implement the club licensing requirements—which means Pro League teams cannot compete at senior Concacaf Champions League or Under-13 level.

And, on Monday, a court order froze the TTFA’s First Citizen Bank account after a request by the National Futsal Team, following the TTFA’s failure to service a debt of just over $500,000.

Now, just eight months before John-Williams is due to face the electorate for a second term in office, the football president is forced to open his books to an indefatigable critic of his behaviour at the helm of the football body.

Look Loy suggested that his court victory was a win for transparency—in and out of the football community.

“First of all, I want to thank [my attorney] Matthew Gayle for doing a terrific job,” he said. “It feels good to know that I won—even though I had to take part in a 14 month odyssey. For people who are fighting for transparency and accountability in the national arena, at least we know that we can have recourse and justice from the courts.

“On a personal level, I feel good to know I did the right thing and the court supported it… In the absence of factual information, speculation will thrive. Now we will go and see what we find.”