Over Alleged Mismanagement Of US$319,000 Raji To Face Lawmakers’ Wrath

On the heel of different rigmaroles ranging from financial to administrative issue at the Liberia Football Association (LFA), a sports advocacy group under the banner of Liberia Sports Lovers Association (LSLA) has urged and is set to petition the Legislature its committees on Youth and Sports to probe the alleged mismanagement of a US$319,000.

This amount, according to the group, was received by the local football house under current President Mustapha Raji from the world governing body FIFA to be used for various clubs in the LFA’s database, at least to develop their operations.

However, it is alleged that the said amount was not given to the clubs as agreed by all executive members of the LFA; rather, President Raji single handedly with no consultation to his collogues diverted such as to construction group CESAF, thus leading to the resignation of then Secretary General Mr. Isaac Montgomery due to disagreement with his boss.

Accordingly, in a press statement issued in Monrovia on Wednesday, April 17, 2024, the group called on the attention of the House of Representatives to probe into the matter, because failure to enhance accountability has the proclivity to undermine sports development.

“Folks, we are pressed to flag these issues because it’s something that border on the survivability of our Liberians soccer players. Like we have said time without numbers, it’s time that Mr. Raji goes for wrongful governance of the football house, which has the propensity to end FIFA support to the country.”

“To end, we are calling on the Legislature’s respective Committees on Youths and Sports to probe into this matter because it has the proclivity to undermine sports development in Liberia, under President Boakai.”

President Boakai has in time past come under immense from different groups to relinquish his position with two years to the LFA elections.

Recently, a damning audit report by KFA Consults into the financial statements of the Liberia Football Association (LFA) for the year ended 31 December 2023 put the cost of the headquarters at US$1.819 million.

It means LFA President Mustapha Raji was in error when he put the cost at US$1.5 million during a dedication ceremony attended by then President George Weah and dignitaries from the world of football in the Swankamore community in April 2023.

In the expressed qualified opinion released on 28 March 2024 by Kofi Abedu-Bentsi, Sr., and signed by Raji and Gecretary-general, Atty. Kollie A. Dorko, FIFA approved an interest-free loan to the LFA to the tune of US$319,045.28 in line with Stage 3 regulations dated 28 July 2020.

The purpose of the loan under the Covid-19 Relief loan was to be used to cater for pandemic-related losses.

But the loan obtained from FIFA was applied as payment to CESAF-Liberia for the construction of the headquarters because of the Covid-19 Pandemic, which affected the prices of construction materials on the global market.

The loan repayment, which is being done in installment of US$79,761.32 starting from January 2023 till January 2026, is expected to be offset by contributions to LFA by FIFA until the full amount is liquidated.

The loan, although approved, wasn’t readily available to be remitted by FIFA.

As a result, FIFA requested LFA to obtain financing from its bank to continue with the headquarters construction work and the funds would be paid by them to the bank.

Based on this, on 10 March 2022, an overdraft request was made by LFA to Guaranty Trust (GT) Bank for direct payment to CESAL-Liberia for continuation of construction work of its headquarters in Congo Town.

On 16 March 2022, GT Bank approved only US$250,000 to LFA, which was less than FIFA’s approved facility of US$319,045.28.

On 22 March 2022, GT Bank transferred a repayment of US$244,229.78 to CESAF-Liberia leaving a shortfall of US$74,815.5.

In order to have the full amount approved by FIFA intended for repayment to CESAF, LFA augmented the bank payment US$74,815.50 to the contractor with GT Bank Cheque No.685636 which was issued on 16 July 2022 bringing the sum to US$319,045.28 as approved by FIFA.

In line with International Accounting Standards (IAS 23) Borrowing Cost, the capitalization cost on the overdraft facility was US$19,083 but only US$10,328 was capitalized in the 2022 financial statements and the difference of US$8,755 was treated as bank charges.

No adjustment has been made in 2023 financial statements.

Contrary to what LFA told the auditors that FIFA approved an overdraft from GT Bank, the FIFA Forward regulations chapter eight (1d) says “The forward 2.0 account may under no circumstances have a negative balance (overdraft) or be pledged. FIFA reserves the right to demand a statement of the Forward 2.0 account at any time.”

Since the dedication, Raji has struggled to defend the cost of the headquarters at US$1.5 million following a revelation from then secretary-general Isaac T. Z. Montgomery, who said it should be valued at US$1.819 million taking into consideration the loan of US$319,045.28.

At a news conference a few days after the dedication and in an apparent response to Montgomery, Raji said the headquarters will remain at US$1.5 million until the retention period of 90 days is over at which time there will be additions and subtractions.

But all the FIFA-approved projects implemented by the LFA had a fixed cost, which was never affected by the retention.

In the latest twist of events, which further displays Raji’s deception, he is now arguing that the project can’t be valued until the Commercial Court rules in a case between CESAF and LFA over an accumulated cost of delaying the retention is properly adjudicated.

It can be recalled that recently a group under the banner of ‘Citizens United for the Promotion and Development’ of Soccer took him to task and called for his resignation for his “poor” leadership ability at the helm of the country’s footballing house.

“Folks, Raji must go if our LFA and footballers lives should be improved. Our intelligent bureau have informed us currently that with Raji still presiding over our Liberia Football Association, FIFA and CAF will have no attentiveness in supporting and developing our footballers lives, this in itself  has the propensity to derail the standards of football in our country. We further want to inform you fellow Liberians and distinguished members of the fourth estate, it may interest you to note that Liberia as a country is yet to participate in the World cup, African cup of nation only because a man who is presiding over the LFA doesn’t have love and affection for our country, this Nigerian by nationality must go.”

“We very are cognizant that he doesn’t have love for our country, no nationalistic Liberian will see the Nation team go down the dream especially a citizen who should be a compatriot and head of Football in our a given country, the circumstances with Mustapha Raji at the LFA is ugly for our young talented boys and girls, his intend is personal and self-seeking and it’s time that this man must leave the LFA, we need to develop and promote our footballers.”

The group at the same time also decried the recent appointment of the new coach of the national soccer squad, the Lone Star, stating that the appointment greatly influenced by the LFA President due to personal interest.

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