MANILA, Philippines - An external audit has been ordered by the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) Board of Governors to get to the bottom of a financial mess that may lead to the resignation of president Jose Mari Martinez.
Mariano Araneta Jr., president of the Iloilo Football Association and newly appointed chairman of the PFF financial committee, said yesterday the Board has designated Tereso Campos to conduct an audit of the books of accounts in the wake of reports of arbitrary disbursements, extravagant expenses, missing funds and unauthorized obligations to third parties.
Martinez came under fire in a recent Board meeting at the PFF office and reportedly offered to resign in November after a motion was filed to force a leave of absence pending results of the audit. But Araneta said Martinez later held back, insisting to stay on the job because of his close relationship with Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Mohamed Bin Hammam of Qatar.
Araneta declined to accuse Martinez of any wrongdoing until the audit determines accountability even as the PFF president was charged in court by two Board members, Richard Montayre of Cebu and Dick Emperado of Negros Oriental, for falsifying public documents in relation to designating a bank signatory.
What bothers Araneta is the PFF’s “topsy-turvy” accounting which caused the issuance of bouncing checks to provincial affiliates and coaches despite a healthy donation of P16.8 million from FIFA this year. FIFA deposits $250,000 annually in the PFF account. Sharing the profits of the World Cup, FIFA pledged an additional $250,000 to the PFF this year and so far, has remitted $125,000.
With so much money coming in, Araneta said he was shocked when the PFF’s balance in its dollar bank account was only $203.80 last July 31. In reviewing the PFF’s cash flows from January to August, Araneta noted a payment of P3.79 million for a loan and “money for safekeeping” amounting to P2.89 million to Henry Tsai whom Martinez named as bank signatory without Board approval.
“We don’t know how Mr. Tsai is involved,” said Araneta. “He is supposed to be a managing consultant. We’ve been told he claims to be the assistant to our treasurer and the PFF executive vice president, a position that doesn’t exist. All we know is we recently received a demand letter from Mr. Tsai’s lawyers that the PFF owes him P1.58 million.”
Araneta, 56, said it appears that Martinez helped himself to the PFF funds. “There are payments for his hospital bills of P160,000 even with a $2,500 medical insurance, credit card statements of close to P300,000 and cell phone bills,” he said. “A membership was paid for at Valle Verde with Mr. Tsai one of the beneficiaries. Payments were made to a group called G-World for services to produce a TV show and stage a fund-raising event that lost money. We are looking into the ownership of G-World.”
Before Martinez took over the PFF helm, past president Johnny Romualdez never drew a salary and used no more than P3,000 a month for his PFF-related expenses, including representation. Martinez, however, receives a monthly salary of P25,000 and an allocation for his other expenses. The PFF’s monthly payroll has ballooned to P360,000 a month.
Araneta said an example of Martinez’ extravagance was when he flew business class to South Africa for the recent World Cup with legal counsel Corsi Cruz and contractor Ding Wenceslao. FIFA travel consultant Marco Wirz provided funds for economy tickets of $5,850 but Martinez went overboard by $10,600 and even extended staying in South Africa by two days, incurring additional cost for the PFF.
Araneta said he suspects hanky-panky because the books show the PFF borrowing money for expenses. Credit card charges were in round figures, indicating a withdrawal of cash to meet certain financial demands.
“From what we are told, the PFF had $30,000 in BDO and P1.6 million in BPI,” said Araneta. “We want to know where that money went. Maybe, the funds from FIFA were invested somewhere and disappeared which may be why we’re seeing loans being made. We understand Mr. Tsai has been Mari’s associate for over 20 years. Mr. Tsai even rents space in the PFF building at P40,000 a month but we don’t see that reflected in the books. We’re not accusing anyone of anything. We’ll wait for the audit results before we make conclusions. All we want is to clean house. There are sponsors willing to help Philippine football but they’re hesitant to invest because of reports of financial problems.”
Araneta said the falsification charges against Martinez are not as grave as if he is found to be guilty of malversation. “We want to pinpoint accountability,” said Araneta, a former national football player from 1975 to 1984 and a UP engineering graduate. “A money issue is non-negotiable. If Mari is liable, he must answer for his accountability. It’s possible that this is case of gross mismanagement without malice involved. The audit should reveal everything we want to know.”
In a portent of things to come, Araneta said Martinez has been delisted as a signatory in one of the PFF’s bank accounts by the Board.
Since assuming the PFF presidency two years ago, Martinez has been dogged by two resignations as secretary-general. Pablito Araneta and Cyril Dofitas previously served before Chito Manuel was appointed.