Lead Editor, Investigative Desk
Former Trinidad and Tobago Football Association president David John-Williams yesterday released documents showing FIFA funding that were disbursed for the Home of Football project but has still failed to answer why he did not have funding in early 2018 to clear shipping costs of US$50,000 which arose then or who the main contractor on the project was.
John-Williams sent the documents on the FIFA disbursements, which began in 2017 and continued in 2018 for the project, in a media release as he tried to defend his decision not to pay the late shipping fees that accrued in the first quarter of 2018, as raised in the CNC3 documentary TTFA’s Secret Panama Trails last week.
In the documentary, it was revealed that monies for the FIFA Forward 1.0 Programme at that time was disbursed to the Home of Football in tranches starting in 2017.
John-Williams contested the July 2017 date in the documentary, since he noted that FIFA only disbursed funds in September 2017 after the Trinidad and Tobago government had granted the TTFA the lease to State lands in early August 2017, as the document he released showed.
However, the funds for the Home of Football did start to flow in November 2017 with FIFA’s first tranche of US$900,000 – a point the documentary made clear in indicating the monies came in tranches starting in 2017.
In FIFA’s Forward Project application released by John-Williams, the second instalment of US$675,000 came upon the receipt of a written report by the contracting company confirming completion of 70 per cent of the work.
The third instalment of US$450,000 came following receipt of a written report by the contracting company confirming completion of 80 per cent of the work and the fourth instalment of US$225,000 one month after completion and the installation and following receipt of a handover document signed between the construction company and the TTFA without reservations.
With this information in early 2018, John-Williams travelled to Panama in January 2018 and submitted invoices to FIFA from ECOTEC in February 2018, as the documentary highlighted.
ECOTEC commercial director Juan Alvarado confirmed to Guardian Media that the company was paid US$282,653.85 back then.
During the months of February, March and April in 2018, according to several invoices that Guardian Media obtained, containers were brought into T&T from Panama for the Home of Football project.
Shipping sources said John-Williams had indicated to them at that time that he could not pay the costs since he did not have any US currency. However, John-Williams, by his own volition, did indicate the Forward Funding project money had started in November 2017.
In the document released by John-Williams yesterday, he spoke about a contracting company specifically being paid monies once they completed the work at particular phases.
What remained significantly unclear, as highlighted in the documentary, is exactly who was the main contractor on the project, how they were paid and when were they paid for their contractual commitments at the Home of Football. The Panamanian account with links to John-Williams that forensic investigators uncovered also remains a mystery and was not addressed by John-Williams’ release?
And contrary to arrangements stipulated by FIFA, John-Williams agreed to pay the Panamanian company what was owed to them prior to the material being released while local creditors, including the shipping company who handled all the containers, are still unpaid almost two and a half years later.
In the release, John-Williams also indicated that as a ‘statement of fact,’ the TTFA did not receive operational costs of US$1.25 million – which is an annual subvention given to associations, but in fact, received some US$500,000.
However, at least two TTFA sources dispelled this, stating that as far as they knew, the TTFA did receive its operational costs of US$1.2m in 2017, with the US$500,000 in January and US$700,000 in July of 2017.