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Liberia Football Association Executives Admit to Fifa US$50,000 Scandal; Agree to Repay Money

Monrovia – Liberia Football Association (LFA) Vice President Musa Shannon is the latest to admit to receiving US$1,500 from the US$50,000 Fifa sent to Liberia to fight Ebola in 2014.

Shannon, who wants to succeed LFA President Musa Bility, appeared on a presidential debate along with LISCR FC President Mustapha Raji and Nimba FC Vice President George Solo on 50-50 on Sky 107.1 FM.

The show, hosted by Tmax Jlateh, was simulcast on Farbric Radio and Capitol FM on April 6, 2018.Shannon said the money was given to all executive committee members (ECMs) by Bility in 2015.“What I received was US$1,500, which I have returned to Liberian football because it has become a contentious issue. So if you calculate that Shannon received US$1,500 and this is the issue that’s going to question his integrity, is why I returned the money because it doesn’t make sense to me. If a man [like me] can pay US$17,000 [from his pocket to LFA employees] than I am going to take US$1,500 and eat it,” Shannon revealed.

The revelation was first made by ECM Rochelle Woodson, who successfully contested an expulsion by congress on December 27, 2016 at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland, that Bility gave each ECM US$1,500 and took US$35,000.

Woodson, who said she and Dee Maxwell Kemayah didn’t receive, called on Fifa to conduct a forensic audit of all its projects because the LFA has continuously submitted fake receipts.

“At that time, I was in the United States when that money was given. It was even the same Isha Johansen [Sierra Leone FA President] that told me that she received US$50,000 [from Fifa]. And when I asked the president of the Liberia Football Association, he denied it several times.

“Later, I had to tell him that Isha had told me that Sierra Leone had received their money. So later, he said the money was distributed among executive committee members and because we were two executive committee members that were not in the country, we wouldn’t have gotten our share.

“So, that money wasn’t used for the intended purpose. That US$50,000 was part of my complaint and I said to Fifa to do a forensic audit because the LFA produces fake receipts. I was the co-chairperson of finance committee and I am speaking with facts.

“And I can tell you that, if they do a forensic audit in regards to lot of their Fifa FAPs, they will definitely know that the money expanded was not used for the intended purpose,” Woodson told Weekend Sports on Fabric 101.1FM on March 11, 2017.

Bility’s admittance to distributing the money among ECMs violates Fifa code of conduct and the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by the LFA and Liberia National Red Cross Society (LNCRS).

“We and the president of the Sierra Leone [Football] Association [Isha Johansen] made the request for 50,000 dollars [to Fifa]. What we did [when the money came], we called the executive committee members and senior managers of the administration.

“Here is 50,000 dollars. We will give you X, Y & Z. Go in your communities and do anything you can do to help the cause of Ebola. And it is [distribution and reports] recorded in our books,” said Bility, who didn’t say how much was given to each ECM.

During the heat of the 2014 Ebola pandemic in West Africa (which recorded

more than 11,000 deaths), Fifa gave US$50,000 each to Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone from its solidarity fund to support the fight against Ebola.

Then Fifa President Joseph Sepp Blatter made the proposal during a finance committee meeting on 25 September 2014 after Fifa formally joined forces with the United Nations (UN) to fight Ebola on September 11, 2014.

Fifa mandated that the money be spent in solidarity with a local UN initiative and or through a recognized health institution, prompting the LFA to seek a partnership with the LNCRS.

The LFA, represented by then secretary-general Alphonso Armah (RIP), entered into an MOU with the LNRCS, represented by then secretary-general Fayiah Tamba, on 10 February 2015.

The US$50,000 grant, according to the MOU, should have been used to implement the desire goals of Fifa by helping to eradicate Ebola from Montserrado, Grand Cape Mount and Margibi Counties.

Twenty five thousand United States dollars (US$25,000) should have been used for all operational matters, such as transportation, volunteers, Lone Star players and LFA staff allowances, lodging and feeding, etc., for all while US$25,000 should have been used for the purchase of paramedics.

According to the four-page MOU, the partners should have created Ebola awareness messages with Fifa emphasis in the three counties, with LNRCS creating the awareness format and programs.

It mandated the LNRCS to create a technical work plan and implementation procedure since it is highly versed with disaster operation and have a daylong workshop with the LFA technical team for better understanding of its implementation.

The LFA and LNRCS should have had periodic technical meeting to review level of work done and to be done with Fifa flag and other logos, as well as LNRCS emblem, flown and displayed at all of the awareness programs.

The partners also agreed to use selected LFA staff, former Lone Star players and LNRCS volunteers in the implementation of the awareness within the three counties.

But it appears the MOU was thrown in the dustbin by Bility after the LFA received the money from Fifa and there are also indications that fictitious receipts were prepared by the finance department.

The LNRCS, which has been engulfed in its own Ebola scandal, has repeatedly said it can’t account for the Fifa grant and has referred me to the LFA.

A review of the MOU shows that the Red Cross should have contributed US$3,136 to the four-month (February to May 2015) sensitization and preventive awareness campaign.

Apparently embarrassed after the revelation, Bility convened an executive committee meeting on January 8, 2018 to, among other things, repay the money and send it to Fifa.

And in a January 13, 2018 email, outgoing ECM Matthew P. S. Smith, who was shocked by the real and hard truth, asked Bility to use the remainder of his monthly honorarium to repay the money.

“I was shocked at an executive committee meeting when Mr. Bility said there is an issue with the Ebola money and we should pay it back because it wasn’t what Fifa intended for the money to be used for. So, that was shocking,” said Smith, who teaches public administration at the African Methodist Episcopal University and University of Liberia (UL) on March 27, 2018.

LFA account receivable officer Joseph Kerkula, along with his wife, died from Ebola but his family or two children didn’t receive a penny from the money.

When the revelation was made, I contacted all ECMs, except then vice president Cassell Anthony Kuoh, alias Tim Borrol and Anthony McClain, (who was detained in the USA on September 16, 2016 and awaiting trial on wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud) by text, Facebook or email on March 11, 2017 and received different responses.

“I do a lot of transactions within the LFA as vice president for administration. It is now two years. So I can’t remember that [particular] transaction that the president is talking about.  But you can contact the LFA finance department to continue your investigation,” said Shannon, who has now admitted, via mobile phone on March 11, 2017 at 16:16 GMT.

“Well, you know I am not clothed with the authority to give out financial information. You will need to speak to [LFA treasurer] Jallah D. Corvah,” said Dulleh, who is the competitions committee chairman and ‘LFA Prime Minister’, on March 11, 2017 at 16:04 GMT.

“Sir, I believe that the LFA, through the executive committee and the secretary-general will respond. CAB,” wrote Bishop by email on March 13, 2016 at 11:16 GMT.

Corvah, whom Dulleh and Shannon referred to, evaded the real issue like the duo.

“Danesius, we have gone over this before. The LFA have a media consultant, who is responsible to work with journalists regarding information from the press. I am kindly asking you to please contact him if you need information from the LFA,” Corvah replied to a Facebook inquiry on March 11, 2017 at 22:32 GMT.

There have been no responses from Dee Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr. and Sheba Brown since the revelation.

It is still not clear how many of the ECMs have repaid the money but Bility, who claimed he deposited the balance US$35,000 in an escrow account, has been unable to say which bank it is in.

Truth, some believe, crushed to the ground will once day rise-up.

What does Fifa code of ethics say?

Woodson’s disclosure versus ECMs’ revelation is a violation of the 2012 Fifa code of ethics.

Chapter 21 (bribery and corruption) prohibits the misappropriation of Fifa assets, regardless of whether carried out directly or indirectly through, or in conjunction with, intermediaries or related parties.

Statutes of limitation

As a general rule, breaches of the provisions of the code (according to section four, chapter 12) may no longer be prosecuted after a lapse of 10 years but prosecution for bribery and corruption is not subject to such a limitation period.

The ethics committee can pronounce the sanctions described in the code of ethics, disciplinary code and statutes on the persons bound by it.

The LFA has been accused of forging receipts sent to Fifa to justify the use of the US$50,000 but chapter 17 (forgery and falsification) forbids the forging of document, falsifying an authentic document or using a forged or falsified document.

source |Frontpage Africa

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