ASA ac­cused of ig­nor­ing damn­ing re­port on Skhosana

Sunday Times - - SPORT - DAVID ISAAC­SON

AN ac­count­abil­ity watch­dog has ac­cused Ath­let­ics SA (ASA) of us­ing “a red her­ring” to shield its em­bat­tled pres­i­dent, Aleck Skhosana, from the fall­out of a fraud case dat­ing back to his days as KwaZulu-Na­tal Ath­let­ics (KZNA) pres­i­dent.

Three sep­a­rate in­ves­ti­ga­tions found two KZNA em­ploy­ees had stolen money be­tween 2009 and 2011 us­ing blank cheques, and that Skhosana was cul­pa­ble by virtue of be­ing one of the union’s two sig­na­to­ries.

The two cul­prits re­signed be­fore fac­ing dis­ci­plinary ac­tion, and one has since died.

ASA’s board has said it can’t act against Skhosana un­til po­lice com­plete their in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the fraud.

But the In­sti­tute for Ac­count­abil­ity in South­ern Africa’s di­rec­tor, Paul Hoff­man, also a se­nior coun­sel, re­jected this.

“The po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion is a red her­ring and a de­lay­ing tac­tic on the part of those who raise it,” said Hoff­man.

“The pres­i­dent is not an ac­cused per­son in any crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings of which I am aware, he is just guilty of such gross cor­po­rate mis­man­age­ment that he has dis­qual­i­fied him­self from hold­ing any po­si­tion of trust.”

But it seems the SA Sports Con­fed­er­a­tion and Olympic Com­mit­tee (Sas­coc) has bought the ASA re­sponse.

When asked for an in­ter­view on this is­sue, a Sas­coc of­fi­cial replied: “The mat­ter is still un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion [by the po­lice] and we await the re­sults.”

Mean­while, the Na­tional Lotteries Com­mis­sion (NLC) said on Fri­day it would launch its own probe into the fraud af­ter con­duct­ing site vis­its and tak­ing le­gal opin­ion.

“The NLC will con­duct a foren­sic in­ves­ti­ga­tion on the grants,” the com­mis­sion said in an e-mail. Skhosana won ASA’s 2014 pres­i­den­tial race by a land­slide af­ter his back­ers chose to ig­nore the fraud con­tro­versy; by that stage two of the in­ves­ti­ga­tions had been com­pleted.

The se­cond — or­dered by the KZN trea­sury’s in­ter­nal au­dit unit into R600 000 given by the pro­vin­cial govern­ment to the union for a one-off race — was the more damn­ing of the two.

That au­dit has never been re­leased pub­licly, but the Sun­day Times has ob­tained a copy.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors un­earthed fraud­u­lent ex­pen­di­ture of R138 548.71 in re­la­tion to the Na­tional Youth Run in Dur­ban in 2010, and found that at­ten­dance fig­ures had been in­flated by 1 444 par­tic­i­pants to 4 333.

On Skhosana, they said he “falsely de­clared in the sec­tion 38 (1)(j) com­pli­ance cer­tifi­cate that ef­fec­tive, ef­fi­cient and trans­par­ent fi­nan­cial man­age­ment and in­ter­nal con­trol sys­tems are in place for [KZNA] as per the PFMA [Pub­lic Fi­nance Man­age­ment Act]”.

KZNA, in fact, had “in­ad­e­quate fi­nan­cial con­trols and fi­nan­cial poli­cies and pro­ce­dures were nonex­is­tent”.

The re­port said fur­ther that Skhosana had failed to en­sure all the sup­port­ing doc­u­men­ta­tion was valid and cor­rect be­fore sign­ing cheques.

“Be­ing as he is no longer a mem­ber of the ex­ec­u­tive com- mit­tee of KZNA, the only ac­tion that can be taken is if he is fur­ther im­pli­cated as a re­sult of the crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

The third re­port, com­mis­sioned by KZNA and which was com­pleted last year, found Skhosana was un­fit to hold of­fice and rec­om­mended he be charged with gross neg­li­gence.

The ASA ex­ec­u­tive has ques­tioned the mo­tive be­hind this re­port and the tim­ing of its re­lease, and pointed out Skhosana wasn’t im­pli­cated in theft. But Hoff­man isn’t con­vinced. “If the re­ports . . . are ac­cu­rate to the ex­tent that they al­lege that the cur­rent ASA pres­i­dent signed . . . blank cheques, then in my view he has been reck­less and is per­son­ally li­able to KZNA for all losses it has suf­fered as a re­sult of his sig­na­ture on cheques that were used for il­le­git­i­mate pur­poses.”

Hoff­man said he agreed that Skhosana was “not a fit and proper per­son to hold a po­si­tion of trust ei­ther in ASA or else­where”.

“If the board has due re­gard for trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity un­der the law, it ought to take steps to ter­mi­nate the pres­i­dency of its cur­rent pres­i­dent and pre­clude him from stand­ing for of­fice on the grounds of his in­el­i­gi­bil­ity based upon the reck­less­ness [or even gross neg­li­gence] with which he dealt with pub­lic money in the past.”

EM­BAT­TLED: Ath­let­ics SA pres­i­dent Aleck Skhosana

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